Roman Bronze Dolphin Head


A Roman Dolphin head cast from bronze featuring a long triangular rostrum, inset eyes and a small fin on the very top of the head. A small frilled collar encompasses the top of the neck. Delicately incised curves and lines decorate the piece. The head has been mounted on a custom-made stand.

Date: Circa 1st-3rd century AD
Provenance: ‘The Ancient Menagerie Collection’ formerly the property of a Cambridgeshire lady, collected since the 1990s and acquired from auctions and dealers throughout Europe and the USA, now ex London collection.
Condition: Very fine condition, patination and encrustation to the surface.


SKU: LD-572 Category: Tags: , ,

Dolphins were a popular motif in Roman art. They were used as amulets or depicted as statues in bronze, as well as on mosaics, frescoes and on the reverse of coins. They appear frequently in mythology, often helping Classical heroes such as Theseus, as well as being associated with a number of gods, including Bacchus, Apollo, Venus and Cupid. Within the creation myth written by the Latin author, Nonnus, during the 5th century AD, he claims within in his epic poem the ‘Dionysiaca’that a dolphin carried Aphrodite from the sea to the island of Cyprus. The dolphin was closely associated with the sphere of sensual love, bearing an amatory symbolism and therefore are often seen with goddess of love Venus.

For more information about the meanings of animals in Roman art, see our relevant blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art.

Weight 115.5 g
Dimensions W 4.9 x H 6.7 cm



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