Ancient Art
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Portrait of a Young Man, Possibly an Olympic Athlete

ca. A.D. 140–160

Marble

35.6 x 22 x 22 cm (14 x 8 11/16 x 8 11/16 in.) Hair to chin Height: 26.5 cm (10 7/16 in.) depth front to back: 25.3 cm (9 15/16 in.) other (width, primary face view): 24.9 cm(9 13/16 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, and Ruth Elizabeth White Funds
2000.12.1
This portrait head represents a young man with a full, fleshy face, square chin, slightly parted lips, and wide-set eyes. The irises are indicated by incision and the pupils drilled—a sculptural convention which begins in the second century A.D. The thick, curly hair was worked extensively with the running drill, creating deep areas of shadow, in a fashion suggestive of a date between A.D. 140 and 160 by comparison with imperial portraits. The head is crowned by an elaborate wreath of bound foliage, probably olive sprigs. Such wreaths were associated in particular with victory at the Olympic games, and the palm fronds carved on the bust support reinforce this theme. Therefore, it has been suggested that this portrait represents a victorious Olympic athlete.
Culture: 
Roman
Period: 
Antonine
Classification: 
Sculpture
Status: 
On view
Provenance: 

Ex. private collection, Neuchâtel (said to be an important banker, pieces from whose collection are now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. with Robert Haber Galleries, New York, on consignment from the Neuchâtel collector; Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1334 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021 sale, December 10, 1999, lot. 285.

Bibliography: 

Klaus Fittschen, “A Portrait of an Olympic Youth(?),” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2001): 44–55, ill. frontispiece, fig. 1, 5, 7, 9, 11.

“Acquisitions 2000,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2001): 45–55, 155, ill.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007).

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.