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Portrait of the Writer, Xenophon
Anonymous
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Portrait of the Writer, Xenophon

II century. White marble. Not on display

This 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 not identified until 1949, when a herm inscribed with his name was discovered in Alexandria. 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.

Xenophon had a rather wide head, and it seems even wider due to his voluminous hair and beard. His medium-length curls cover much of his forehead, and on the right temple, they are combed in a slightly ascending direction towards the left temple. Marked brows and a softly convex forehead shade his rather contracted eyes, but his other facial features appear relaxed. His upper lip is covered with a thick mustache, while the lower lip, which has been added in the case of the Madrid head, is thick and stands out from the chin. 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.

Technical data

Related artworks

Hermes-Sakkôn and Xenophon
Pencil on paper, Mid-XVIIIcentury
Inventory number
E000100
Author
Anonymous
Title
Portrait of the Writer, Xenophon
Date
II century
Technique
Sculpted
Medium
White marble
Dimension
Height: 58 cm.; Width: 34 cm.; Base/bottom: 30 cm.; Weight: 74.6 Kg.
Provenance
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, Imprenta y fototipia de J. Lacoste, Madrid, 1908, pp. 88, n.100.

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

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

Exhibitions +

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

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

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

Update date: 07-07-2020 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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