Hellenistic Greek Marble Head of Alexander the Great
Greek · Late 4th century B.C.
H: 43.2 cm
The head is carved from a beautiful block of fine-grained white marble; the surface of the stone, carefully cleaned, retains all its luster and fine modeling. The trunconical form sculpted under the neck clearly indicates that the head belonged to a complete statue. The hair, partly unfinished, was probably covered with a veil or another headgear, now lost.
The statue represents a beardless young man, with highly idealized features. The slight asymmetry in the treatment of the facial muscles and in the hair suggests that the head was meant to be placed in three-quarters to the right, the side where the hair is carefully finished. The execution and nuanced shapes are absolutely remarkable, as evidenced by the delicate and sensuous modeling of the skin on the cheeks or the neck, and by the fine rendering of the eyes area, of the nose and mouth. The long and elegant neck, lightly poked forward, is curved to indicate the bulge of the Adam’s apple. The hair that covers the head like a skullcap is irregular and formed by curls in relief, in which incised locks trace volutes.
The facial features recall a very famous type of late 4th century Greek sculpture: the portrait of a very young Alexander the Great. The head, now in Malibu, that B. Ashmole identified as the Macedonian king, is certainly a closer parallel to our example than the more elaborate type, known as Alexander from Erbach (of which three Roman copies exist).
No restorations or repairs; superficial wear throughout; nose missing.
Art market, prior to 1992;
Ex- British collection, UK;
US private collection, acquired July 20, 1992
BRAFA, Brussels, 2016
On portraits of Alexander, see:
FITTSCHEN K., Katalog der antiken Skulpturen in Schloss Erbach, Berlin, 1977, pp. 21-25, pl. 8, pl. annexes 2-3.
STEWART A., Greek Sculpture, An Exporation, New Haven – London, 1990, pp. 191-192, fig. 576-577 (Malibu).
The Search for Alexander, An Exhibition, Washington, 1980, n. 6 and 13.