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Head of Serapis
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Head of Serapis

Second half of the II century. Marble.
Not on display

This head carved from bigio morato marble is broken into two parts, vertically. Its restoration required several additions, both to finish various curls and to reconstruct the top of the head, where a relatively well-disguised piece of gray marble is visible. The incrusted eyes are of white marble with nero antico pupils. The base is of gray-veined white marble. The figure´s identity has varied considerably and continues to do so. It may be the testa di Seneca di pietra paragone listed in the inventory of Christina of Sweden (no. 82) but it was then undocumented until it appeared in La Granja in the mid 17th century. It appears in the Ajello Sketchbook (drawing no. 53) and in the inventories of Charles III. Once in Madrid, it was listed in the Museo del Prado´s1849-1857 inventory as Jupiter, while Hübner though it was either of that god or of Pluto. In his handwritten comentaries on the Ajello Notebook, B. Vicens more accurately considers it an effigy of either Serapis or Bacchus, but Barrón prefers to follow Hübner. Finally, Blanco correctly identifies it as Serapis, a Greco-Egyptian god represented according to its Roman iconography and created during the period of Hadrian (117-138 A. D.). Bigio morato marble can have white veins, and is therefore called bianco e nero d´Egippo, although the location of its quarry is unknown. In any case, it was extensively used for sculptures from the 2nd century, A.D., especially those in Hadrian´s villa in Tivoli, which were made during his reign (Text from Elvira Barba, M. A.: Escultura clásica. Guía, Museo Nacional del Prado, 1999, p. 112).

Technical data

Related artworks

Pencil on paper, Mid-XVIIIcentury
Ajello, Eutichio
Inventory number
Head of Serapis
Second half of the II century
Height: 44 cm; Width: 22 cm; Base/bottom: 17 cm; Weight: 22.6 Kg
Colección Cristina de Suecia
Royal Collection (Collection of Cristina de Suecia; San Ildefonso, Palacio Real, Felipe V's collection).

Bibliography +

Hübner, Emil, Die Antiken Bildwerke in Madrid, Druck Und Verlag Von Georg Reimer, Berlín, 1862, pp. 89.

Barrón, Eduardo, Catálogo de la escultura. Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura., Imprenta y fototipia J. Lacoste, Madrid, 1908, pp. 227, n.323.

Blanco Freijeiro, A., Catalogo de la Escultura, Blass, Madrid, 1957, pp. 117.

Blanco, Antonio, Museo del Prado : catálogo de la escultura, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1981, pp. 112.

Elvira Barba, Miguel Ángel, El Cuaderno de Ajello y las esculturas del Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1998, pp. dibujo 53.

Elvira Barba, Miguel Angel, Bajo el signo de Fortuna: esculturas clásicas del Museo del Prado, [s.n], Salamanca, 1999, pp. 35.

Museo Nacional del Prado, La púrpura del imperio, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1999, pp. 112.

Borea, Evelina, L'idea del bello: viaggio per Roma nel seicento con Giovan P, Edizioni de Luca, Roma, 2000.

Luxan Rodriguez, Elena, Bibliotheca Alexandrina : Homenaje a la Memoria, Apuesta por..., Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid, 2003.

Schröder, Stephan F., Catálogo de la escultura clásica: Museo del Prado, II, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 429-433.

Schröder, S.; Elvira Barba, M.A, ''Eutichio Ajello (1711-1793) y su descripción de la célebre Real Galería de San Idelfonso'', Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXIV, 2006, pp. 40-88.

Roma e l' antico : realtà e visione nel ´700, Skira, 2010, pp. 456/293.

Elvira Barba, Miguel Angel, Las esculturas de Cristina de Suecia: un tesoro de la Corona de España, Real Academia de Historia, Madrid, 2011, pp. 36,75 / 99.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 255.
255. Una cabeza de mármol negro sobre base blanca que representa a Júpiter. / Alto 1 pie, 1 pulgada. / Id. la base 5 pulg, 6 lin.

Inv. Carlos III, 1789-1790. Núm. 2844.
2844 En la otra mesa se hallan otras dos caCavezas de marmol negro de un pie sin sus peanas á mil reales cada una importa. 2.000

Inscriptions +

Cross of Burgundy or Cross of Saint Andrew, collection’s mark belonging to Felipe V. On the front

Inscribed in black. Plinth

Exhibitions +

Roma e l'Antico. Visione e realtà nel '700
29.11.2010 - 08.05.2011

Bibliotheca Alexandrina
09.07.2003 - 21.09.2003

El cuaderno de Ajello y las esculturas del Museo del Prado
19.10.1998 - 03.01.1999

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

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