Colossal Roman Marble Head of Tyche (Fortuna)
Roman · 1st century A.D.
W: 32.0 cm (12.5 in)
H: 57.0 cm (22.4 in)
This impressive, larger than lifesize 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 deeply 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 city’s bricks decorating the sides.
Unmentioned in the Homeric poems, Tyche became popular over the centuries and became an omnipotent deity in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. She does not appear as a protagonist in any myth. Her role is limited to 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 crenelated crown.
This head belonged to a statue of monumental dimensions. Since the Hellenistic era, two major types of the composition of Tyche statues have 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 abundance and prosperity, and a rudder, or steering paddle, a 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, the bottom of eyes, and a small area of crown restored, back of the head and parts of the crown now lost.
Art market, prior to 2001;
Ex- European private collection, 2001;
Imported to the US on 20 March 2001.
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.
The British Museum
Jordan Archaeological Museum