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Portrait of Menander

Roman, 1st century, copy of Greek original of 3rd century BCE; marble; 34 × 17.5 × 23 cm (13 3/8 × 6 7/8 × 9 1/16 in.). BZ.1946.2
Portrait of Menander

Menander was one of the best-known Greek playwrights of the 4th century BCE. This portrait dates from the 1st century of the Roman Empire, judging from the smooth features, the triangular face, and the carefully shaped locks of hair. Some of Menander’s plays have been lost and are known only through quotations in other ancient authors, sometimes no more than a single line. This is true of the isolated line inscribed on the west architrave of the Courtyard Gallery: “Art is a haven from misfortune for mankind” (ΛΙΜΗΝ ΑΤΥΧΙΑΣ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΙΣ ΤΕΧΝΗ), chosen by the Blisses to express the effect they hoped their collections might have on visitors to Dumbarton Oaks.

 

Provenance

Collection of the Museo Corneto, Tarquinia, Italy (in A. Hekler, Portraits antiques [Paris, 1913], plate 105b); by 1913, in collection of Mary Bryant Brandegee (née Pratt) (1871–1956), Brookline, MA (in R. Norton, “Greek and Roman Marbles from the Brandegee Collection,” Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin [1913]: fig. 3), until at least 1940; purchased from Brandegee Collection by “Mr. Warren”; Aldo Jandolo, New York and Rome; purchased from Jandolo by Brummer Gallery, New York, May 20, 1943 (inventory N5521); purchased from Brummer Gallery by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, February–March 1946.

 

Selected Bibliography

G. M. A. Richter, Catalogue of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection (Cambridge, MA, 1956), 4–10, no. 4, plate 2.

S. Hemingway and C. Picón, eds. Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World (New York, 2016), 147, no. 54.

Museum record

 

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