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Author Topic: Hera Borghese  (Read 2172 times)

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Offline Jochen

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Hera Borghese
« on: January 02, 2019, 04:50:53 pm »
Dear friends of the historical and cultural background of ancient coins!

Today I want to share too one of my favourite coins together with some results of my research.

The coin:
Moesia inferior, Tomis, Philip II & Serapis, AD 247-249
AE 26, 13.84g
       The confronted busts of Philip II, draped and cuirassed, bare-headed, r., and of Serapis,
       draped and wearing kalathos, l.
       Hera, in chiton and himation, stg. frontal, head l., resting with raised l. hand on long
       sceptre and holding in extended r. hand patera
ref.  a) AMNG I/2, 3591 (1 ex., Odessa Mus.)
       b) Varbanov 5813 (cites AMNG 3591)
rare, VF, concentric traces of smoothing process

The depiction of Hera on the rev. is exceptional. In her nearly transparent chiton she looks rather like Aphrodite than the venerable Queen of Heaven. According to Pat Lawrence it is possible, that the rev. shows a variant of Hera Borghese. This statue too was discussed for a long time wether she depicts Hera or Aphrodite. So it was supposed that she was a copy of Aphrodite Euploia from Amyklai.

History of the statue:
The archetype of the so-called Hera Borghese was unearthed AD 1834 in the Villa dei Bruttii Praesentes at the Monte Calvo in the Sabine Mountains, brought to Rome and exhibited in the Villa Borghese. Hence her name. It is the marble copy of a Greek bronze original. It is well known that the Greek usually casted their statues from bronze, whereas the Romans had a favour for marble and used it too for their copies of Greek bronze statues.

In 1803 she was brought by Napoleon Bonaparte into the Louvre in Paris. After she was given back she was bought in 1890 by Helbig for the Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek in Copenhagen. Plaster casts are found in the Musei Vaticani in Rome (Museo Chiaramonti), in the Museo Palatino in Rome and in the Castello Aragonese Museum in Baiae.

History of Arts:
According to Mette Moltensen the Roman copy comes from the 2nd Century AD whereas the Greek original is originated in the 2nd half of the 5th century BC, as resulted by art historical researches.

(1) Corpus (body) and garment are equal ponderously. The garment is not emphasized especially, but is fallen downwards consistently following its natural gravitation. It is carried by the same swinging movement like the corpus. This matches the perceptions of the high classic in the 2nd half of the 5th century BC. The assumption speaks for the ambit of the school of Phidias.

(2) The garment is slipped from her left shoulder. She wears only a thin chiton, that accentuates distinctly her female body shape. This erotical touch ist the main reason for the fact that the recent scholarship interprets the statue as depiction of Aphrodite. The partial divestment of Aphrodite was already possible at the end of the 5th century.

(3) The swinging and the high classical S-shape that we could still see at Hera Borghese was in the middle of the 4th century replaced by a system of polarity. The rhythmizing was broken between upper and lower body. Thereby the garment takes over the structuring in the form of a transverse pouf that no longer is caused organically by the movement of the body but is applied from the outside.

(4) To make this new perception a bit clearer I have added a pic of Hera Barberini. This statue was found in the late 17th century on the Viminal hill in Rome and got the name from its first owner, cardinal Francesco Barberini. Today the Hera Barberini stands in the Musei Vaticani (Museo Pio-Clementino). You can see that the garment here has got a much stronger accentuation as at Hera Borghese. Here you can see the pouf that arranged upper and lower body. It is supposed that the Greek original comes from Alkamenes (died around 400 BC), a scholar of Phidias, who has created important sculptures for Athens and Olympia. With him we are already in the time after high classic.

The German archaeologist Wolfgang Helbig (1839-1915) was for 25 years in Rome the representative of the Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen, the founder of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek. In this time he bought more of 950 sculptures and antiquities for his collections in Copenhagen. The time was advantageous for him. By the huge building projects after the Italian unification important ancient findings were made and at the same time highly indebted aristocratic families had to sell their collections.

(1) Ina Altripp, Athenastatuen der Spätklassik und des Hellenismus, Arbeiten zur
      Archäologie, Böhlau Verlag Köln 2010
(2) Adolf B.Borbein, Die griechische Statue des 4.Jh. n.Chr. Form-analytische
      Untersuchungen zur Kunst der Nachklassik, in "Jahrbuch drer deutschen
      Archaeologischen Instituts, Bd. 88, 1973,
(3) A. Delivorrias, Der statuarische Typus der sog. Hera Borghese in: H. Beck – P. C.
      Bol (Hrsg.), Polykletforschungen (Berlin 1993), 221ff., Abb. 4, 7, 9 Zenon
(4) Mette Moltesen, Catalogue Imperial Rome II. Statues. Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek
      (2002), 42f., Kat.Nr. 1 Zenon
(5) R. Neudecker, Die Skulpturenausstattung römischer Villen in Italien (Mainz
      1988), 181, Kat.Nr. 35, 2 Zenon
(6) Karen Schoch, Die doppelte Aphrodite - alt und neu bei griechischen Kultbilden,
      Universitätsverlag Göttingen 2009
(7) Wikipedia

I have added
(1) A pic of Hera Borghese from the Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek in Copenhagen
(2) A pic of Hera Barberini from the Musei Vaticani (Museo Pio-Clementino)

Best regards


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