Friday, April 30, 2021

Bust of a Boy or Eros with the Attributes of Herakles, 150-100 BCE, Roman Period Greece

This thinly-cast bust depicts a youth wearing a lion-skin over his head and a quiver strap across the chest. The figure has delicate features and fine hair that is drawn up in a braid with tendrils falling onto his forehead. The figure may depict a young Herakles, or an unidentifiable youth in the guise of the great hero. A third possibility is that this young man is Eros, who was often depicted with attributes associated with Herakles. Two small holes at the bottom edge may have been used to attach this bust to a piece of furniture. 

While in wealthy households beds were used for sleeping in the bedrooms (lectus cubicularis), and couches for banqueting while reclining were used in the dining rooms (lectus tricliniaris), the less well off might use the same piece of furniture for both functions. The two types might be used interchangeably even in richer households, and it is not always easy to differentiate between sleeping and dining furniture. The most common type of Roman bed took the form of a three-sided, open rectangular box, with the fourth (long) side of the bed open for access. While some beds were framed with boards, others had slanted structures at the ends, called fulcra, to better accommodate pillows. The fulcra of elaborate dining couches often had sumptuous decorative attachments featuring ivory, bronze, copper, gold, or silver ornamentation.

Bust of a Boy with the Attributes of Herakles, 150-100 BCE, Greek, now part of the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum on view at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, California.  Image courtesy of Bruce White Photography.

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