Two Sculptures from Minturnæ

By: J. J.

Originally Published in 1932

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Terra cotta head of Aphrodite with bun of wavy hair
Plate IV — Terra-Cotta Head of Aphrodite From Minturnæ, Italy
Museum Object Number: 32-36-18
Image Number: 3491, 4742

TWO terra-cotta sculptures found in the course of last season’s work at Minturnae are here shown, in Plates IV and V. These heads are not to be compared with Tanagra figurines, as they are not mould-made but modelled entirely by hand. They represent Aphrodite and Apollo, and are certainly copied from Hellenistic Greek originals. Their manufacture is a problem of much interest; they are of local clay and thus were made at Minturnae, but it is difficult to believe that they were the work of local artisans, and therefore they must he assigned to one of the bands of travelling Greek artists who are known to have created the terra-cotta decorations of various Italic temples in Italy.

Terra cotta head of Apollo with halo of curly hair, profile view
Plate V — Terra-Cotta Head of Apollo From Minturnæ, Italy
Museum Object Number: 32-36-19
Image Number: 3491, 7735

Both heads are from originally complete statuettes. They are broken off at the same point, near the base of the neck. The head of Aphrodite is complete except for a chip which has carried off the back of her coiffure. The fabric is excellent and the surface is extraordinarily fine and well preserved. The hair, eyes, nose and mouth all show that the final modelling was done with a fine stylus, but the whole conception is unusually vigorous for sculpture on so small a scale. Her hair is parted in the middle, carried back over the ears, and knotted in back, with two braids falling to her neck. Below the knot of her hair there are traces of a repair in lead, though the terra-cotta is not broken through. Perhaps this was a preventive measure, to fill cracks which appeared in the baking. The original figure was about fifteen inches high.

The Apollo is smaller, perhaps thirteen inches high. He provides a very suitable companion-piece to the Aphrodite, though unfortunately the baking was not as successful and the surface is largely destroyed. He is otherwise complete, however. Like Aphrodite, his final touches were done with a stylus, apparently, as far as we can judge, with even more taste and care. His hair was confined by a fillet, now indicated by shallow grooves in the clay; originally it may have been of silver or gold. Below the fillet the hair hangs in free curls, kept rather short in front but left long in back. He was represented with his head turned sharply to the right and down.

A number of fragments-torsos, arms, legs-from similar statuettes show that the medium was by no means rare at Minturnae. These two fragments were found on the ancient ground level in back of the Capitolium, or Temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, and probably formed part of the subsidiary temple decoration.

J. J.

Cite This Article

J., J.. "Two Sculptures from Minturnæ." Museum Bulletin IV, no. 1 (December, 1932): 9-12. Accessed July 24, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/1002/


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