- Museum number
Marble head from a statue of a figure wearing a taenia (cloth headband), possibly Apollo. Many restorations; the surface of the face has been reworked. Sometimes believed to be a copy of the Hera by the sculptor Polykleitos from her temple the Argive Heraion.
- Production date
- 2ndC (probably)
Height: 26.67 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Cook 2013, nr. 40:
Townley's description; ‘A head of Apollo large life with the bandage-diadem and the hair hanging down in ringlets. It is of early Greek work, indicated particularly by the sharp prominence of the eye-lids and it probably belonged to a similar statue to that, which is engraved in the Mus: Capitol: Tom 1 Tab: 14’ (1804 Parlour Catalogue, street drawing room 7*)
The identification of this head has long been a matter of dispute, and it appears in several different guises in Townley’s papers. In the first Italian transcript (TY 10/1) it is described as ‘Una Testa Greca rappresentante un Bacco’, but Townley’s own description in the second Italian transcript (TY 10/2) is ‘A head with a pettina supposed a Ptolomy’. The same description was copied in ST 1 (fo. 12r), but ‘supposed a Ptolomy’ was later crossed out and ‘of Apollo’ inserted after ‘head’ in Townley’s hand. In the first priced list (TY 10/6) it appears as ‘A head belonging to a Telamon’ with the last four words crossed out and replaced by ‘of Apollo’. In the second priced list (TY 10/7) the head has become ‘Apollo with ye diadem’ and in the 1782 Catalogue (TY 12/1) it is first listed in the hall as ‘a head of Apollo with ye benda’ and is also added in pencil at the end of the list for the street parlour as ‘a head of Apollo Orius’. When this second entry was added is not clear, but the head again appears as ‘Apollo Orius’ at the end of the list of purchases from Jenkins in the third priced list (TY 10/5). A variant ‘Apollo Orus’ appears in the ‘L’ Catalogue (TY 12/3), in its derivatives in Towneley Hall and the British Library, and in ST 2. According to Pausanias (II.35.2), there was a cult of Apollo Orius at Hermione near Corinth, but there is no obvious reason why Townley should have connected this head with the cult. Combe accepted Townley’s identification of the head as Apollo, but Vaux and Oldfield thought it ‘much more likely that it really belonged to a statue of the youthful Bacchus’ (AMBM XI, text to pl. V). Later scholars have seen the head as female. Smith noted Waldstein’s theory that the head was a copy of the Hera by Polykleitos at Argos (JHS 21  30, pl. 3), but classified it himself as an unidentified female ideal head. Waldstein’s theory has not been generally accepted (it is ignored in the discussion of the Hera by Polykleitos at Argos in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicaes.v.).
Bought from Jenkins in 1768 for 120 Scudi (TY 10/1), rendered as £ 30 in TY 10/2, TY 10/3 (fo.21), TY 10/5-7, and ST 1 (fo. 12r).
Townley drawing 2010,5006.182, attributed ‘very probably’ to Brown [I. D. Jenkins], and 2010,5006.158, attributed to Townley himself, annotated ‘Head of Apollo in my collection 1773’. The date is a mistake: Townley was confusing this piece with Cook 2011, nr. 91 (1805.7-3.59 = Sculpture 1550), which was bought in 1773.
Date and identification:
Waldstein’s attempt to identify the head with the Argive Hera by Polykleitos was doubted by Smith, but has more recently been revived by Linfert, attributed to Polykleitos II and dated ca. 400 BC; associated with seated figure in Boston.
- Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (1808) X.77.
- Specimens of Antient Sculpture...Selected from Different Collections in Great Britain, by the Society of Dilettanti (London 1809-1835), I, pl. 23.
- Ancient Marbles of the British Museum, XI, pl. 5.
- A Guide to the Graeco-Roman Sculptures in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities (Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum) (2 vols., London 1874 [2nd ed. 1879] and 1876), I, no. 140.
- C. Waldstein, 'The Argive Hera of Polykleitos', The Journal of Hellenic Studies 21 (1901), 30-44, pls. 2-3.
- A. H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, Vol. III (London 1904), 121, no. 1792.
- Andreas Linfert, Von Polyklet bis Lysipp (diss. Freiburg 1965; publ. Gieáen 1966), 10-13.
- Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, IV, 673 s.v. Hera at no. 112.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number