Roman Bronze Maenad Protome

£ 2,500.00

A Roman bronze protome featuring a protruding female bust, most likely a Maenad, with a hollow, unworked back. The figure leans out and looks to her left: her face is round, smooth and softly smiling. She wears a tunic with fine drapery, pinned at each shoulder with a round brooch. The figure’s torso is encircled by a foliage wreath, now fragmented, mirroring the wreath encircling her head. This is decorated with clusters of three berries.  The reverse of the protome shows a sculpted head, with the underneath of her torso unworked .

Date: Circa 1st - 3rd century AD
Provenance: Ex private French collection, Paris, acquired 1970s.
Condition: Fine condition with surface patination, missing the bottom half of the circular wreath and the lower fragments of her torso. There is a hole in the back of her head.

In stock

Protomes were normally attached as decoration to larger items like horse tack, chariots, domestic items, jewellery boxes or furniture. They are often in the form of a head, bust or half figure, usually depicting characters from Greek and Roman mythology. The abundance of foliage decorating this figure leads us to believe she may be a follower of Dionysus, who was the god of orchards, vegetation, fertility and harvest among other things.

Maenads in Greek Mythology were the female followers of the god Dionysus. They were the most significant followers of his retinue and were often accompanied by Satyrs. The term Maenad came from the Greek ‘maenades’, which translated as ‘mad’ or ‘demented’. They were often referred to as raging or frenzied.

Weight 156.6 g
Dimensions L 6.7 x W 3.5 x H 7.5 cm

Greek Mythology



Reference: For similar item: Sotheby’s, London, Ancient Sculpture and Works of Art, July 2022, Lot 182

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