True Beauty

Shines from within, pure, timeless, immortal. No makeup, no cosmetics – not even a whole face – required.

Fragmentary colossal marble head of a youth
Greek, Hellenistic period, 2nd century B.C.
Discovered at Pergamon, on upper terrace of gymnasium, 1879

Although this extraordinary head has long been known, its function and importance have only recently been understood. The youth, with long curling locks and a brooding expression, was originally part of a draped bust set into a marble roundel almost four feet in diameter. It is probably among the earliest known sculptures of this type (imagines clipeatae) in marble and over life-size in scale. It would have been one of several that adorned the walls of a particularly grand space in the gymnasium of ancient Pergamon. He may represent a young god or possibly Alexander the Great. Even in its damaged condition, the head exemplifies the combination of sensitivity and presence characteristic of the finest Hellenistic Pergamene sculpture. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

May 28th, 2017

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