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Demetrius I Poliorcetes
Hellenistic workshop
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Hellenistic workshop


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Demetrius I Poliorcetes

307 a.C. - 300 a.C.. Bronze.
Room 072

The monumental dimensions of the bronze head, compatible with a statue approximately 3.5 m high, as well as its individualized features suggests a portrait rather than a mythological image. Schröder (1993) explained in detail that the bronze is an original Greek work datable between 310 and 290 BC. In stylistic terms it is notably similar to the marble head of Lysimachos (?) in Ephesos (Smith 1988, no. 19, pl. 13). In recent years various authors have suggested that the head depicts Demetrios Poliorketes (Brown 1995, 107, no. 114; Queyrel 2003, 125, no. 172; Moreno 1995, 223, no. 19), even though the figure is not wearing a sovereign’s diadem. Two portraits of Demetrios, the herm in the Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum, which is generally accepted as depicting him (Lehmann 1980, 110-2; Frel and Pasquier 1987, 82; Smith 1988, no. 4), and a monumental marble portrait from Tarsos (Johansen 1992, 70, no. 26) have the same facial features as the Prado bronze, with the features of the Herculaneum herm attenuated and normalized to conform to Roman portraiture: an oblong face with a heavy, prominent chin, the mouth slightly open with a broad lower lip that projects over the lower one, and finally a long, straight nose, which is slightly damaged in the Madrid head. Particularly characteristic is the bulging line of curls above the forehead. The curls on all three heads repeat the same motifs and their dramatic style recalls the head of Alexander on coins issued by Lysimachos (see Brown 1995, 64 with fig. 3a). Comparable in this sense is a monumental is a monumental bronze from Boubôn in Lycia (Queyrel 2003, 114-27, pls. 17-18), which has a front row of very wavy free-standing curls, albeit in a different position. This portrait, identified as Attalos I, is also devoid of a diadem. Given that the Getty Athlete (Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum, no. 77.AB.30), identified as Demetrios Poliorketes by Frel (1987, 89-96), does not have a diadem but rather the wreath of a victorious athlete, it might be asked whether the earliest portraits of rulers always had diadems, as subsequently became the norm. It may be that because of the wavy hair that so recalls Alexander the Great, the Madrid and Boubôn portraits did not need any other royal attribute. The two above-mentioned portraits of Demetrios Poliorketes with the horns of Dionysos Tauros depict him as the manifestation of that god. The identification of the Madrid head with Hephaistion (Moreno 1993, 102-4; Moreno 1995b, 222-3, no. 19) was rightly rejected by Stewart (1993, 453-5, no. 4). It is possible that the Madrid bronze depicts Demetrios Poliorketes (ca. 336-283 BC) in 307 BC, when, at the age of thirty, he and his father were proclaimed kings by the Athenians. Plutarch (Demetrios, 10.3) notes that this was the first use of this revered title, reserved for Alexander and his descendants. Just one year later Demetrios and his father Antigonos I received the diadem as kings of Asia (Schröder, S. F.: Power and Pathos. Bronze sculpture of the Hellenistic World, 2015, pp. 196-197).


Technical data

Inventory number
Hellenistic workshop
Demetrius I Poliorcetes
307 a.C. - 300 a.C.
Chased; Cast
Height: 45 cm; Width: 35 cm; Base/bottom: 39 cm; Weight: 23.2 Kg
Colección Cristina de Suecia
Collection of Queen Christina of Sweden; Royal Collection (acquired by Elizabeth of Farnesio and Felipe V in Parma; Palacio de La Granja de san Ildefonso).

Bibliography +

Winckelmann, J. J., Vom Mechanischen Theile der griechischen Kunst, Winckelmann's Werke, V, Dresde, 1812, pp. 151, nota 659.

Hubner, Emil, Die Antiken Bildwerke in Madrid, Druck Und Verlag Von Georg Reimer, Berlín, 1862, pp. 94.

Sentanach y Cabañas, Narciso, Bronce praxiteliano en el Museo del Prado, Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Excursiones, 10, 1902, pp. 26-28.

Barrón, Eduardo, Catálogo de la escultura. Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura., Imprenta y fototipia J. Lacoste, Madrid, 1908, pp. 87, lám. XLVI-III, n.99.

Ricard, Robert, Marbres Antiques du Musee du Prado a Madrid, Feret & Fils, Burdeos, 1923, pp. 123.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las esculturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1949, pp. 22.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de la escultura, Madrid, 1957, pp. 73.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de la Escultura, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1981, pp. 66,67/ lám.10.

Smith, R., Hellenistic Royal Portraits, Oxford, 1988, pp. 64-69.

Schröder, Stephan F., Catálogo de la escultura clásica: Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 1993, pp. 67-69.

Stewart, A. F., Faces of Power, Alexander's image and hellenistic politics, Berkeley, 1993.

Moreno, P., L'immagine di Alessandro Magno nell'opera di Lisippo e di altri artisti contemporanei, Alexander the Great. Reality and Myth, Roma, 1993, pp. 101-136.

Alessandro Magno. Storia e Mito, Leonardo Arte, Roma, 1995.

Brown, B. R., Royal Portraits in Sculpture and Coins, New York, 1995.

Elvira Barba, Miguel Angel, Cristina de Suecia en el Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1997.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Escultura clásica: guía, Fundación Marcelino Botín; Museo del Prado, Santander, 1999, pp. 98.

El Real Sitio de La Granja de San Ildefonso: retrato y escena del rey, Patrimonio Nacional; El Viso, Madrid, 2000, pp. 453.

Queyrel, F., Les portraits des Attalides, Atenas, 2003.

Jaeggi, Othmar, Die griechischen Porträts: antike Repräsentation, moderne Projektion, Reimer, Berlin, 2008.

La forza del bello: l' arte greca conquista l' Italia, Skira, Milán, 2008.

Corona y arqueología en el Siglo de las Luces, Patrimonio Nacional, 2010, pp. 85-93.

Elvira Barba, Miguel Angel, Las esculturas de Cristina de Suecia: un tesoro de la Corona de España, Real Academia de Historia, 2011, pp. 36,75 / 105.

Azcue Brea, Leticia, El origen de las colecciones de escultura del Museo del Prado. El Real Museo de Pintura y Escultura, El taller europeo. Intercambios, influjos y préstamos en escultura moderna europea. I Encuentro europeo de museos con colecciones de escultura, Valladolid, 2012, pp. 73-108.

Schroeder, Stephan, Portrait of a Diadoch. (Demetrios Poliorketes?)' En:, Power and Pathos : Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World, J. Paul Getty Museum - Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi., Los Ángeles, Prato, 2015, pp. 196-197 n,6.

Schröder,S. Arias, E, Demetrio Poliorcetes: un bronce helenístico recuperado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2017.

Samperio Iturralde, Juan Ignacio, ¿Es Demetrio I o Alejandro?, Descubrir el arte, Enero XIX n. 227, 2018, pp. 90-91.

Schröder, Stephan, Der Unbekannte Hierrscher. Demetrios Poliorketes im Museum del Prado, Antike Welt, 2019, pp. 65-73.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, Sección Escultura, 1857. Núm. 735.
735. Una cabeza colosal de bronce, rellena de betun en una base cuadrada de marmol blanco con betas negras. / Alto 1 pie, 8 pulg; id la base 10 pulg.

Exhibitions +

Demetrius Poliorcetes. A monumental hellenistic bronze restored
12.06.2017 - 15.10.2017

Monumental Bronzes of the Hellenist World
Washington D.C.
13.12.2015 - 20.03.2016

Monumental Bronzes of the Hellenist World
Los Ángeles CA
28.07.2015 - 01.11.2015

Monumental Bronzes of the Hellenist World
13.03.2015 - 21.06.2015

El Real Sitio de La Granja de San Ildefonso. retrato y escena del rey
La Granja
15.06.2000 - 15.10.2000

Alessandro il grande nel suo tempo
21.12.1995 - 21.05.1996

Location +

Room 072 (On Display)

Update date: 21-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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