“With the head of Antinous, melancholy made her entry into antique art.” Roman Sculpture by Eugénie Strong.
This colossal bust is a posthumous portrait of the lover of Emperor Hadrian (AD 117–138). The eyes and the attribute on the top of the head (possibly a lotus flower or a uraeus) were added separately.
“pain and enjoyment of life, darkness and light, death and youth mingle in these features.” (Roman Sculpture by Eugénie Strong. )
In Antinous all the cults of declining Paganism seem to meet. “In fact, the whole of the latter-day Olympus reawakens in him to a new life.” As the Antinous is the last of the great classic types given to the world by the antique, so also is it among the most powerful and majectic.
‘The supreme and most characteristic achievement, however, of the Hadrianic period was the creation of the type of Antinous. It is the triumph of original thought over the eclecticism of form.’ (…)
‘In it is summed up the whole spirit of that strange Hadrianic period with its intellectual, unanswered curiosities and unappeased longings, its sensuous illusions and tragic scepticism.’ (Roman Sculpture by Eugénie Strong.)
Lemnian Athena of Phidias, in 451 BCE.
“The unknown artist who made the head of Antinous Mondragone for Hadrian seems to have attempted to bring some of the charm and beauty of the Lemnia into the face of the Emperor’s favorite.” Athena probably stood with a spear in her left hand and a winged victory or libation bowl in her right. It is thought that in the original by Pheidias she did not wear a helmet, unlike many sculptures of Athena. (Cambridge)
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