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Marble group of two young boys

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: Roman
: 1st - 2nd century A.D.
: Marble
: Height: 56 cm

Acquired on the Swiss art market, late 1980s


The heads, feet, and part of the legs and arms are now lost. Surface in good condition, though chipped and damaged. Reglued (legs?) or reassembled


The group is composed of two standing figures, representing two nude boys simply dressed in a cloak fastened at the shoulders.

They are placed in a virtually specular position, one next to the other, and each resting an arm on the shoulder of his companion. Judging by the shape of the break at the neck, the children would have been looking at each other or turned their heads towards the inside. The boy on the left holds a large bird under his arm: the posture and shape of the animal recall a pigeon. On the right thigh of the child placed at the right, a small tenon that served to attach his hand is still visible (the hand would have fall along the body); slightly lower, a circular hole suggest the presence of a trunk or of a supporting pillar.

This piece is of excellent workmanship. The artist rendered the chubby, rounded shapes of the children’s body in a very accurate and sensitive manner, and perfectly translated the mischievous bond that can exist between two young brothers or closein-age playmates.

Among the closest parallels for groups of playing children, one should mention the images of Eros. Groups of two or several erotes (who diff er from children by the presence of wings) are often represented in sculpture (sculpture in the round, relief on sarcophagi), in painting or in mosaics, in many play activities (ball games, wrestling, with animals, music, etc.), or also in work activities (agricultural work, artisans, etc.).

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