The story of the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum, £8.99
Height: 19.600 cm
Bequeathed by Richard Payne Knight
Bronze figure of Jupiter
Roman, 2nd century AD, after a Greek original
Found at Labovo (modern Liboni) near Paramythia, Epirus, north-west Greece
This bronze figure of Jupiter (Greek equivalent Zeus) is one of a group of twenty bronzes found near Paramythia in north-west Greece (see Related Objects and Information).
It is likely that the bronzes were from a Roman household shrine. The group was later discovered by Albanian peasants at Liboni, site of ancient Photice, which flourished as a Roman and Byzantine town. Some, including this one, have eyes and teeth inlaid with silver, while others also have silver finger nails and copper nipples. The god probably once held a sceptre in his left hand and a thunderbolt in his right.
After their discovery, most of the statuettes went to St Petersburg to be sold to Catharine the Great (1729-96), but she died before the sale took place and they were acquired by a Mr Wierislowski. But the figure of Jupiter had already been purchased in England by the numismatist and antiquary Richard Payne Knight (1750-1824). He considered that the figure's anatomy was 'in perfect unison with the ideal grandeur and sublimity of the character.' He was so captivated by the figure that when he heard that more were available in Moscow he immediately sent an agent to buy twelve of them. Payne Knight bequeathed them all to the British Museum in 1824.
H.B. Walters, Catalogue of bronzes, Greek, R (London, 1899)
E. Edwards, Lives of the founders of the B (London, Trübner and Co.; New York, J.W. Bouton, 1870)
M. Clarke and N. Penny (eds), The arrogant connoisseur: Rich, exh. cat. (Whitworth Art Gallery, 1982)
J. Swaddling, 'The British Museum hoard from Paramythia, north-western Greece: classical trends revived in the 2nd and 18th centuries AD' in Bronzes hellenistiques et roma (Lausanne, Diffusion De Boccard, 1979)