Boy with Pomegranates in his Lap

1,000 د.إ د.إ

SKU: TT14-C195 Tag:

H. max. 57 cm.
White, fine-grain marble.
The three holes on the right side with remains of pins in oxidized iron (one corresponding to the missing arm’s place of attachment and the other two are circular and are found on the surface of the cloak), suggest a restoration; the head, now missing, was also a result of the restoration, mounted onto the neck by a pin; the lower parts of the legs are also missing; various crests of the folds are chipped.

This boy has well-rounded legs with the right one slightly behind the left; he wears a tunic and holds the hem with his left hand in order carry the pomegranates in his lap. The pomegranates are visible on the left. The garment covers the right shoulder and falls off the left shoulder, concealing the elbow and ending at the forearm. The tunic is rendered in a more approximate manner on the back, where it falls below the knee.

The general schema of the statue is inspired by another statue that has numerous replicas and variations of reduced dimensions (just below 90 cm). The identity of the other original statue is unknown (young Hermes?) dating from perhaps the beginning of the third century BC. This date has been determined by the pyramidal construction of the figure and by its hairstyle with its wavy curls, at least in the few cases in which the head is preserved. In this type of figure, the boy’s left arm was folded at the elbow, and the left hand grasped the hem of the garment. On the front, near the bottom, the hem formed a triangular motif with a downward-pointing vertex corresponding to the right thigh. The right arm, unfortunately lost in most cases, must have been folded at the elbow and pointed towards the head, sometimes with the index finger near the mouth, as it is found in a terracotta reproduction and in a few relief reproductions, a distinctive gesture of Horus-Harpocrates; two heads bear the wings of Hermes. However, many variations of the figure are possible: the left hand can hold different attributes (cornucopia, grape bunches, fruit); similarly, the right hand sometimes carries a dog or fowl, suggesting that the representation was sometimes used for funerary purposes, as does its reoccurrence in relief on some sarcophagi. In the past, it has even been suggested that the representation had the analogous function of a departure model, although this is improbable. The figure-type was also transformed into the image of the “genius of the season” in later sculptures, almost always with fruit in his tunic’s sinus: the Torlonia Museum in Rome; the Chiaramonti Museum at the Vatican in Rome (with three birds in his lap); the Corsini Villa of Castello in Florence; and the Hadrianic Baths of Lepcis Magna in Tripoli.

The work of art recovered by the Guardia di Finanza is unlike the figure-type referred to because of the line of the descending shoulders, the design of the tunic’s folds that diagonally cross the torso, and the highly-arched rather than diagonal hemline across the chest; moreover, the left hand holds the interior hem, vaguely in the same way as the statues at Ince Blundell Hall and at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg’s , and it is also located on the front side of the body, as does that of a statue in Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, bought in Rome, always with the left hand holding the hem of the tunic in order to carry multiple pomegranates. The same theme can also be found on a statue from Rome, although it differs by its unveiling of the groin and by the more dynamic pose of the legs. The statue formally belonged to the Bishop’s collection and is now at the National Museum in Krakow.

The few examples belonging to the series of this figure-type, not including exceptions, have not been studied thoroughly. Therefore, one must be cautious when dating them. They are mostly attributed to the second century AD, chronology that often represents a rapid and convenient solution. Such a timeframe would also be suitable to the statue at hand for the rigidness of the folds, causing the fabric to appear inanimate, and for the drillwork that characterizes it especially in the anterior fold; the work does not seem to be of a sublime level, even less so when compared to one of the more notable representations of the figure-type in the Erbach Castle’s collection.

Massimiliano Papini


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