A Marble Relief Fragment - DC.7400
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 250 AD to 270 AD
Dimensions: 16.25" (41.3cm) high x 11.5" (29.2cm) wide
Collection: Classical
Style: Roman Imperial
Medium: marble
Condition: Fine


Probably from the corner of a monumental lion-hunt sarcophagus, finely carved in high relief with the figure of a young hunter. He is wearing chlamys fastened on his right shoulder, his head carved almost in the round and turned sharply to his right, with dimpled chin, parted lips, straight nose, large eyes with recessed crescentric pupils and incised irises, and long sideburns, the hair swept up and back from the forehead in long deeply-drilled wavy locks. What makes the young hunter portrayed in this corner-fragment from a sarcophagus so intriguing? His vigorous and youthful body is certainly an achievement within itself, as is the Chalmys, which is draped so languorously across his shoulder. But the aesthetic perfection of his body- the juxtaposition of his sharp muscle against the rich and supple folds of the cloth, does not grab us with nearly as much force as his visage. His forehead is short and wide- his hair line unusually arched. The sweep of his long hair with its creeping, stray sideburns gives him a sense of wildness and dashing, setting itself apart from the neatly arranged curls of most Hellenic sculptures. But the riot of hair cannot, for an instant detract from the utter regality and nobility of his face. His vaulted cheekbones accentuate the hollow of his wide, inquisitive, yearning eyes. His nose artfully planes out from his brow, making its straight and bold lines prominent. His lips especially fascinate us with their fullness, their sensuality, the way they curve atop his round mouth and play into the sharp curve of his boyish chin. His face, despite being in every way an exception to the canon of Hellenistic art, floods us with a sense of comfort and undeniable familiarity. Perhaps this is because the boy we are seeing, in all likelihood, was destined to become one of the most famous young men in the history of the world. We see, in this boy’s dashing features, a young Alexander the Great. The chin has not yet filled out into the masculinity of his older age, and his face is a bit thinner in youth, but the regal structure of the countenance, the full and unusual femininity of the lips, and most of all his eyes lead us to conclude this young hunter is, in fact, the original master of the world. Looking into his eyes, we see the yearning, the intelligence, and the confident ambition of the conqueror. But rather than seeing a being that has attained his immortality, we see in this face the tension, the thirst, the passion, of one who knows that his immortality lies right around the corner. For those of us who harbor Alexandrian aspirations, it is an emotional experience to see our own yen reflected in this piece. What is rendered eternal in this sculpture, with as much grace and skill as ever any masterpiece throughout history has managed, is the potential contained within those who shall hold some day hold the world in their hands. From a block of marble, the hands and mind of an artist managed to divine the future of this young hunter, and with it, the future of the world. To posses this piece is to bottle the expression that would spread Greece to every corner of the world, and ensure the progress of modern thought as we know it. - (DC.7400)



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