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Collosal Roman Marble Head of Tyche (Fortuna)

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: Roman
: 1st century A.D.
: Marble
: H: 57.0 cm (22.4 in) - W: 32.0 cm (12.5 in)

Ex- European private collection, 2001; imported to the US on 20 March 2001.


This impressive, larger than life size female head with a crown represents the goddess Tyche, or Fortuna, the Graeco-Roman personification of luck and chance. Her regular and well-delineated features, noble proportions, and a perfect oval of the face reflect the Classical ideal of female beauty. Cut from a single block of marble, this goddess is portrayed with a gentle gaze. The shape of the fuller lips and the chiaroscuro effect of the hair locks divided by deep carved grooves demonstrate the modeling characteristic for the Hellenistic period. The hair, styled in undulating curls on the forehead and temples, is gathered under a large crown with the bricks of the city decorating the sides.

Unmentioned in the Homeric poems, Tyche became popular over the centuries and turned out to be an omnipotent deity in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. She does not appear as a protagonist in any myth, her role being limited to that of an abstract concept embodied with many local meanings, since every city possessed its Tyche. As a protective goddess of a city, she appeared wearing a crenellated crown.

This head belonged to a statue of monumental dimensions. Since the Hellenistic era, two major types of the composition of Tyche statues existed. She could be represented standing alone, dressed in a long himation over a chiton with multiple and carefully arranged folds; besides her major attribute, a crown, she holds additional attributes in her hands, a cornucopia, symbol of abundancy and prosperity, and a rudder, or steering paddle, symbol of fortune (this element is designed as the figure’s support). Sometimes, an infant Plutus, the god of wealth, appears in her arms. The second type is known after the famous statue created by Eutychides in the early 3rd century B.C. for the city of Antioch on the Orontes. It represents the goddess seated on a rock, with crossed legs, and having the river Orontes at her feet (personified by half a figure of a swimming young man).

Good condition; abrasion to the tip of the nose, hair and eyes; superficial wear throughout the surface; nose, chin/bottom lip, and left lock of hair: original and reattached; top lip, bottom of eyes, and small area of crown restored, back of the head and parts of the crown now lost.


COMSTOCK M.B., VERMEULE C.C., Sculpture in Stone, The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 1976, no. 190.

DOHRN T., Die Tyche von Antiochia, Berlin, 1960.

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), vol. 1, s.v. Antiocheia, pp. 840-851.

RIDGWAY B.S., Hellenistic Sculpture I, The Styles of ca. 331-200 B. C., Madison, Wisconsin, 1990, pp. 233-235, 243-244.

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