Head of a goddess, three-quarter view from left

Head of a goddess, view from back right

Head of a goddess, left profile view

Head of a goddess, right profile view

Head of a goddess, view from back left

Head of a goddess, frontal view

Collection: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Title: Head of a Goddess (?)
Findspot: Found at Rhodes
Summary: Head and neck, perhaps of a goddess, made separately for insertion in a statue
Object Function: Unknown
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Free-standing statue
Category: Single sculpture
Style: Early Hellenistic
Technique: In-the-round
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 300 BC - ca. 275 BC

H 0.459 m, H (face) 0.215 m

Scale: Over life-size
Region: Dodecanese
Period: Early Hellenistic

Subject Description:

This goddess, perhaps Aphrodite, juts her head slightly forward. She gazes straight ahead of her, and parts her lips slightly: these features give her a certain intensity that was characteristic of late Classical and early Hellenistic works. Her wavy hair (most of which is broken off) is parted in the middle. An identification as Aphrodite is supported by the 'Venus rings' or fleshy creases in the neck a general (stylistic) similarity to the Knidian Aphrodite of Praxiteles. This figure is also aptly compared to portraits of Queen Arsinoe II (wife of Ptolemy II), who was deified in 270, on the basis of the fleshy neck and the slim, attenuated nose.

Form & Style:

The long, narrow nose is reminiscent of Praxitelean types; this feature, combined with the slightly opened mouth and deeply cut eyes, that impart a certain intensity to the gaze of the goddess, are characteristic of late fourth centuryas well as third century sculpture, and were widespread in the Pergamene school.

Condition: Head only (complete)

Condition Description:

Minor damage to the lip and hair over left temple. The head is shaved and back of it left rough because it was covered, with either a helmet or drapery. Surface damaged from cleaning with acid.

Material Description:

Island (Parian) marble (Vermeule)

Technique Description:

The head and neck were carved separately for insertion in a statue.

Collection History: Formerly E.P. Warren Collection. Acquired by the MFA in 1899.

Sources Used: Comstock & Vermeule 1976, no. 48

Other Bibliography: T. Schäfer, JdI 111 (1996) 45 n. 81; H. Meyer in Moon 1995, 115 n. 44; Kabus-Preisshofen 1989, 115, 118; R. Kabus-Preisshofen, AA 1988, 696; E. Weski and H. Frosien-Leinz et al., Das Antiquarium der Münchner Residenz: Katalog der Skulpturen (Munich 1987) 151; G. Gualandi, Annuario 54 (1976) 34, n. 3; Merker 1973, 31 under no. 101