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Herm with Acanthus Leaves

Rome, date uncertain; bronze; 144 × 25.8 × 14.8 cm (56 11/16 ×10 3/16 × 5 13/16 in.). BZ.1940.22
Herm with Acanthus Leaves

Beginning in the sixth century BCE, portrait busts were sometimes placed atop four-sided pillars such as this, making what was called a herm, as the form often represented Hermes. They were sometimes fitted with arms, and a phallus. Greeks and Romans erected herms at crossroads and entryways to homes to offer protection.

 

Provenance

Said to have been found at Nîmes, France. Bignault or Canessa collection (offered for sale at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 1910, lot 109, plate XII); Arthur Sambon, Paris, until 1914 (offered for sale at Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1914, lot 78); Brummer Gallery, Paris and New York (inventory P440); purchased from Brummer Gallery by William Randolph Hearst, April 5, 1926; Parish-Watson and Company, to 1939; Brummer Gallery, New York (inventory N4463); purchased from Brummer Gallery by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, March 26, 1940; transferred to Harvard University, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, DC, November 1940.

 

Selected Bibliography

G. M. A. Richter, Catalogue of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection (Cambridge, MA, 1956), 42, no. 23, plate 16A.

 

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