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Roman Bronze Chariot Embellishment - Antinous

Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 3rd century CE. A striking bronze chariot ornament, finely cast via the lost wax (cire perdue) technique to depict a figural bust of a male - perhaps Antinous, the Bithynian Greek youth who was the beloved of Roman Emperor Hadrian. Quite attractive, he presents a clean-shaven face, a curly coiffure, and a muscular chest. In addition, his beautiful visage features winsome eyes delineated with generous lids and incised pupils, an arched browline leading to an aquiline nose, and full heart-shaped lips - framed by Antinous' characteristic curlicue locks. A special piece, boasting a marvelous form that has developed a rich green patina over the ages. Size: 4.625" H (11.7 cm)

Antinous was the favorite - possibly the lover - of the Roman emperor Hadrian. Antinous was deified following his death, worshipped sometimes as a god and sometimes as a hero. Unfortunately, very little is known about Antinous' biography. What is known is that he was born in Claudiopolis (modern day Bolu, Turkey) located in the Roman province of Bithynia. It is thought that he was introduced to Hadrian in the year 123, prior to being taken to Italy for quality education. By 128, he had become Hadrian's favorite, at which time he was taken on a tour of the Empire as part of the emperor's personal retinue. Antinous accompanied Hadrian during the annual Eleusinian Mysteries in Athens, and was believed to be with him when he killed the Marousian lion in Libya. Sadly, in October 130, Antinous died mysteriously as they were part of a flotilla going along the Nile. There have been several suggested causes for his death, ranging from accidental drowning to intentional sacrifice. After his death, Hadrian had Antinous deified and organized a cult to worship him.

Condition: Perforations in chest and head presumably for former attachment. Form is very well preserved. Bronze has attained a gorgeous green patina.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-William Froelich collection, New York, USA, acquired in the 1970s

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