Fragment of Large Torso
This striking fragment features several elements which make it undoubtably decorative. The impact of the sheer size and the impressive skill of the worked marble showcases an athletic, masculine physique, one can only presume belonging to a God, athlete or heroic individual. The figure is stood with his weight placed on his left leg, in a relaxed yet authoritative stance. This powerful anatomical rendering shows the care and skill taken to produce this sculpture. Judging from the powerful rendition of the musculature, the statue is possibly a Roman version based on a Polykleitan work of art. The Romans admired the realist proportions, sense of movement and overall beauty of the original Greek sculptures.
The use of marble in Ancient Rome was a symbol of power. Many Romans felt the demonstration of the use of marble was a message that ‘anything was possible’. Although still an extravagant material, during the reign of Augustus (31 B.C.E – 14 C.E.), marble become more common and very fashionable. Augustus had famously claimed in his funerary inscription, known as the Res Gestae, that he “found Rome a city of brick- and left it a city of marble”.
The sheer skill and craftsmanship which has been achieved by the artist is captured in the subtlety on the masculine physique. The fine granulation of the marble allows for precision carving that mirrors human skin and minor realistic details. Ancient quarrymen would exploit natural breakages in the stone to extract huge blocks, forcing them apart with iron wedges. Once the piece had been extracted, an artist would use traditional tools such as tooth chisels, point chisels and rasps.
A very similar work of Diomedes can be found in the Glyptothek, Munich (Inv.304, Ex Albani collection 1815). Being a parallel in scale and stylistic rendering, the statue of is broken at a similar point at mid-thigh. However, he retains his upper torso and head.
The Muse’s Song, Selections of Ancient Art, New York, 2008, No. 21.
David Aaron Ltd, 2020, No. 7.