The Portland Vase, £5.00
Height: 201.000 cm
GR 1864,10-21.1 (Sculpture 1599)
Marble statue of Hermes
Roman, 1st century AD
The Farnese Hermes
Together with a statue of Apollo, this sculpture once framed the central doorway of the gallery in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome. The Farnese family assembled one of the most important Renaissance collections of antiquities in the city. Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, later Pope under the name of Paul III, commissioned the family's magnificent palace. Begun by the architect Antonio di Sangallo (about 1455-1534) and finally completed by Michelangelo (1475-1564), it housed the most splendid antiquities owned by the family and became one of the prime destinations for visitors to Rome. Its centrepiece was a great gallery over the arcades of the back part of the palace, completed in 1589. The gallery contained fine sculptures integrated with wall and ceiling frescoes, added by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) after 1597, into a carefully thought-out iconographic program.
This statue of Hermes, identified by his winged sandals and the herald's staff in his left hand, is a Roman copy of a famous type created in the school of the Greek sculptor Praxiteles in the fourth century BC. Another Roman copy after the same type was in the Vatican, where it was known as the 'Belvedere Antinous'.
A.H Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in -2, vol. 3 (London, British Museum, 1904)