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Roman Sculptor
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Roman Sculptor

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Ca. 150. White marble.
Galería Jónica Planta Principal Norte

The portrait of the writer Xenophon (430-354 b.c.e.), who was a disciple of Socrates in Athens and later commanded an army serving the Persians and Spartans, was identified in 1949, when a herm inscribed with his name was discovered in Alexandria (120 A.D., BA Antiquities Museum, inv. 25778).

Six Roman copies of this portrait are now known: the Alexandria herm, an incomplete portrait from Pergamon, the head in the Museo del Prado, a double herm from Athens, a head in the Vatican, and probably a head in Aphrodisias, which has not been exhaustively published. The direction of his curls is less clear in the Madrid replica than on the heads from Alexandria and Pergamon, due to the wide grooves. The different replicas vary slightly from each other, and thus, in Madrid and the Vatical, the beard beneath the mouth is combed diagonally to the left, which the other copies have symmetrically ordered curls. The hair above the right ear on the Pergamon head differs from the other replicas while, above the left ear of the Prado´s head, in a backward-facing sickle-shaped series of curls, there are two tufts of hair running the other way. These do not appear in any other copy. The copies come from the second and third centuries, A.D., at the end of Hadrian´s era and the beginning of the Antonine dynasty (Pergamon); the late Antonine dynasty (Prado), the beginning of the Severan dynasty (Athens) and the reign of Gallienus (Vatican).

It is not yet possible to reconstruct the statue of Xenophon. If the replica from Pergamon were a reproduction of the original in that sense, then Xeonophon would have been dressed with robes draped over his left shoulder, leaving his torso bare. The writer spent twenty years on a rustic estate in Skillous, near Olympia, and Pausanias (5,6,6) saw a marble portrait on a grave that must have belonged to Xenophon´s tomb (he died in Corinthia). This work´s style indicates it was probably made some time after his death, around 340/30 b.c.e.

Schröder, Stephan F., Catálogo de la escultura clásica: Museo del Prado, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 1993, p.54-56


Technical data

Related artworks

Hermes-Sakkôn and Xenophon
Pencil on paper, Mid-XVIIIcentury
Ajello, Eutichio
Inventory number
Roman Sculptor
Ca. 150
White marble
Height: 58 cm; Width: 34 cm; Base/bottom: 30 cm; Weight: 74.6 Kg
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Hubner, Emil, Die Antiken Bildwerke in Madrid, Druck Und Verlag Von Georg Reimer, Berlín, 1862, pp. 110.

Barrón, Eduardo, Catálogo de la escultura. Museo Nacional de Pintura y Escultura., Imprenta y fototipia J. Lacoste, Madrid, 1908, pp. 88, n.100.

Ricard, Robert, Marbres Antiques du Musee du Prado a Madrid, Feret & Fils, Madrid, 1923, pp. 84.

Adriani, Achile, Un ritratto di Senofonte, 1, 1949, pp. lám. XI.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de la Escultura, por A. Blanco, Madrid, 1957, pp. 74.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de la Escultura, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1981.

Schröder, Stephan F., Catálogo de la escultura clásica: Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 1993, pp. 54-56.

Bajo el signo de Fortuna: esculturas clásicas del Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 1999, pp. 104.

Sculture Di Roma Antica. Collezioni Dei Musei Capitolini All..., Electa, Roma, 1999.

Las criaturas de Prometeo: esculturas clásicas del Museo del Prado, Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander, 2000, pp. 74.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, Sección Escultura, 1857. Núm. 378.
378. Una cabeza desconocida de marmol de Carrara. / Alto 2 pies, 1 pulg.

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in black. On the front

Fleur-de-lis, used as a collection’s mark belonging to Elisabeth Farnese. On the left side

On the left side

Exhibitions +

Las criaturas de Prometeo. Bajo el signo de la Fortuna. Esculturas antiguas del Museo del Prado
17.03.2000 - 23.04.2000

Bajo el signo de la fortuna. Esculturas antiguas del Museo del Prado
26.04.1999 - 23.05.1999

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

Location +

Galería Jónica Planta Principal Norte (On Display)

Update date: 18-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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