It's certainly not every day that a bust of the Ares Borghese style comes up for auction.


This white marble torso of impressive stature, was most likely used to adorn the entrance to a temple or shrine.

The statue depicts a male nude torso leaning to the right, resting on his left leg, tilting his pelvis creating an idealised and exaggerated male form.

The piece is an Ares Borgese type interpretation, a classically inspired Roman creation which is considered to be the most complete replica of the agalma by Alcamenes, the Greek sculptor from the early classical period and student of Phidias, for the temple of Ares on the Agora of Athens. The best known copy is now kept at the Louvre museum.

"Ares Borghese" Roman Imperial copy (first - second century AD?), Marble © Musée du Louvre "Ares Borghese"
Roman Imperial copy (first - second century AD?), Marble
© Musée du Louvre

At the time of the statue's creation, Romans were passionate about depicting men as heroic archetypes.

Despite its exceptional condition, the statue shows signs of damage, a cruciform mark on the abdomen is a sign of the destructive episodes and the mutilation of pagan statues by Christians in the proto-byzantine period from the fourth century, especially in Egypt and Asia Minor.

Following the destruction of Roman religious artefacts, some wealthy owners recognised the value of the ancient statues that they had restored, such as the statue of Diane found in the villa of Fortuna Annonaria in Ostia. This interest in antiquities lead to them restoring ancient works and, while they did not have the originals, accurate copies were made with great attention to detail.
And if Ancient Art hasn't got you excited, check out the rest of the sale, which includes a rare wedding chest by André Charles Boulle and a set of sixteen works by Gaspard Dughet.

Check out HVMC on Barnebys here.