Identification and Creation
Object Number
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
1st-2nd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
9.4 x 6 x 2.3 cm (3 11/16 x 2 3/8 x 7/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 84.91; Sn, 10.65; Pb, 3.99; Zn, 0.178; Fe, 0.12; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.05; Sb, 0.07; As, less than 0.10; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.005; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is brown with spots of red and green. The hammer in the right hand is lost, except for a small portion in the fist. The right foot and part of the tongs in the left hand are also lost. The surface has been cleaned mechanically, leaving some visible scrape marks.

The statuette is a solid lost-wax cast. Although there is no evidence, it is likely that most of the design of the wax model was cast using the indirect technique, and additional detail in the face, hair, and drapery was added to the wax model. A 0.5-mm punch used to define the pupil of the left eye appears to have also been used on the right eye, but it slightly missed its mark, landing too high and causing the eye to appear squinted. Additional cold work may be present in the hair and beard. The instep of the left is foot is oddly flattened and appears slightly bent. There is no indication that the metal was bent to this shape, and it may have been intentionally modeled this way to portray Hephaistos’ crippled condition. The remains of the handle of the lost hammer in the right fist are recessed slightly from the hand, and it appears that the hammer was separately fabricated and inserted into the hand.

Henry Lie (submitted 2001)

Norbert Schimmel collection, (by 1974), gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1982.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Norbert Schimmel in honor of Professor George M. A. Hanfmann
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This small statuette of Hephaistos (Roman Vulcan), the god of the forge, stands frontally with his weight on his right foot, now missing, while his left knee is slightly bent. A conical cap (pilos) covers the top of his head, and short curls frame his face, which is well preserved. The god’s beard is also curly. He wears a short, belted tunic with many vertical and diagonal folds that is fastened over his left shoulder, leaving his right shoulder and part of his chest exposed. His right arm, bent at the elbow, is held out at waist height and clutches his hammer, with only part of the handle now remaining. His left arm hangs down at his side and still holds the remains of a pair of tongs (1).

Several other statuettes represent the god with these attributes, and these are thought to be copies of the cult statue of the god that was made c. 420 BCE by the sculptor Alkamenes for the Hephaisteion in Athens (2).


1. Compare Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae Vulcanus nos. 1-3; A. Kaufmann-Heinimann, Götter und Lararien aus Augusta Raurica: Herstellung, Fundzusammenhänge und sakrale Funktion figürlicher Bronzen in einer römischen Stadt, Forschungen in Augst 26 (Augst, 1998) 51 and 103, no. 43, fig. 24.1.

2. See H. A. Thompson and R. E. Wycherley, The Agora of Athens: The History, Shape, and Uses of an Ancient City Center (Princeton, 1972) 145-47; K. Sams, ed., Small Sculptures in Bronze from the Classical World, exh. cat., William Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, 1988) no. 32.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

Oscar White Muscarella, ed., Ancient Art: The Norbert Schimmel Collection, Verlag Philipp von Zabern (Mainz, 1974), no. 35.

G. Kenneth Sams, ed., Small Sculptures in Bronze from the Classical World: An Exhibit in Honor of Emeline Hill Richardson, exh. cat., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC, 1976), no. 32.

F. Brommer, Hephaistos: Der Schmiedegott in der Antiken Kunst, Verlag Philipp von Zabern (Mainz, 1978), p. 53, 148, 213, pl. 22.4.

Jürgen Stettgast, Von Troja bis Amarna: The Norbert Schimmel Collection, New York, exh. cat., Verlag Philipp von Zabern (Mainz, 1978), no. 60.

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), p. 113, no. 127, ill.

"A Bronze of Hephaistos", Persephone (Summer 1996), Vol. 2, No. 2, 24-25, p. 24, ill.

Carol C. Mattusch, The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1996), p. 185, no. 2.

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Artemis (Zürich, Switzerland, 1999), Hephaistos 71.

Exhibition History

Small Sculptures in Bronze from the Classical World: An Exhibit in Honor of Emeline Hill Richardson, William Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center, 03/07/1976 - 04/18/1976

Von Troja bis Amarna: The Norbert Schimmel Collection, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, 03/18/1978 - 05/28/1978; Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, 06/24/1978 - 09/03/1978; Archäologische Staatssammlung München - Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, 09/28/1978 - 01/06/1979

The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 04/20/1996 - 08/11/1996; Toledo Museum of Art, 10/13/1996 - 01/05/1997; Tampa Museum of Art, 02/02/1997 - 04/13/1997

Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008

Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/23/2019 - 05/13/2019

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

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