Head from a Statue, 2nd century BCE-1st century CE
Hellenistic or Imperial Roman
10 5/8 × 7 7/8 × 9 ¼ in. (27 × 20 × 23.5 cm)
3-D Object/Sculpture
1971-34 DJ

Photo: Paul Hester
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This fragmentary head was once part of a full-length sculpture depicting a Black African man. The statue is broken at the neck, a natural weak point, and has some damage to the face, particularly the nose and ears. The figure has distinctive medium length hair arranged in corkscrew-style curls, soft facial features, and a slightly open mouth. Details, such as the pupils, may have been added in pigment that is now lost. The surviving fragment does not indicate who the figure is or what he was doing, but his neck is turned as he gazes off to his right. Such depictions of movement became popular in the Hellenistic period and remained fashionable into the early Roman Imperial period (2nd century BCE–1st century CE). Later Roman sculptures typically had figures facing frontally, or with a slight turn of the head (an example in the Menil Collection is 1990-10 DJ). Additional elements of the object’s history, such as the archaeological provenience (findspot) and context of this sculpture, are unknown.