Ancient Art
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After: Polyeuktos, Greek, active. 280 BC

Portrait of Demosthenes (384–322 B.C)

2nd century A.D.

Marble

35.4 x 21.3 x 24.5 cm (13 15/16 x 8 3/8 x 9 5/8 in.)
Rebecca Darlington Stoddard Fund
1981.47
Demosthenes, a prominent fourth-century B.C. orator and outspoken opponent of Macedonian control over Athens, committed suicide to avoid capture and execution. Decades later, the Athenians commissioned Polyeuktos to create an honorific bronze statue of the orator to stand in the Agora. Though the statue is lost, copies of the head and body made in the Roman period survive. The statue’s tensely clasped hands and slumped shoulders, seen in the image at right, express Demosthenes’s worry over the future of Athens. It is recognized as one of the first portraits to reflect the subject’s psychological condition.
Culture: 
Roman, after a Greek original
Classification: 
Sculpture
Status: 
On view
Bibliography: 

Gisela Marie Augusta Richter, Portraits of the Greeks, 3 volumes (London: Phaidon Press, 1965), vol. 2, pp. 215–223.

“Acquisitions 1981,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 38, no. 3 (Winter 1983): 54, 70, ill.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 266, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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