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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Torso of a Statue of a Hermaphrodite, copy after a Greek original, probably of the 2nd century BC
Work Type
2nd century CE
Roman Imperial period, Early
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

actual: 35.5 cm (14 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William de Forest Thomson
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Published Catalogue Text: Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums , written 1990

Torso of a Statue of a Hermaphrodite

The head, arms, and all below the waist are missing. There are drill holes in the right arm and the neck. The sculpture is chipped, especially on the left shoulder, the breasts, and the right side of the body.

The torso was turned a little to its left. The right arm was raised, and the left arm was lowered. What remains shows a body that was well proportioned, almost muscular.

The complete statue showed the figure leaning against a support below the left arm, with the end of the cloak around the lower limbs brought over this wrist and then hanging down in zigzag folds. A lifesize version of this figure was found at Pergamon, and a small statue, like this fragment, was published in the possession of Mr. Piero Tozzi, New York (Bieber, 1961, pp. 124-125, fig. 492). The original concepts may go back through the third century B.C. to the age of Praxiteles in the middle of the fourth century, but these underlifesized hermaphrodites appear to copy creations made at the outset of the so-called Hellenistic "rococo," around 150 B.C. They would have been carved in Graeco-Roman times for courtyards and the gardens of villas, although the most famous hermaphrodite from Pompeii (Villa Matrone near the seaport) derived from a noble fifth century BC model like the Diomedes of Kresilas (Paribeni, R., 1902, p. 576, fig. 4; Reinach, 1897-1930, III, p. 243, no. 6).

In the Harvard torso, it is a step not at all far to the two-figure groups of Pan or a satyr advancing on a seated hermaphrodite with lust in his heart and on his mind. Indeed, in pose and style this torso is very like the corresponding section of the group from the Western Baths at Cherchel, carved Italy of Luna marble (Gauckler, 1895, pp. 123-124, pl. X) Similar characteristics are seen in the upper body of the hermaphrodite found in the Palaestra at Salamis on Cyprus (Karageorghis, Vermeule, C., 1964, pp. 29-30, no. 21, pl. XXVII).

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

  • Cornelius C. Vermeule III and Amy Brauer, Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 79, no. 61

Verification Level

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