Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Artemis and a Deer

Part of the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Greek and Roman Galleries is this Roman statue of Artemis and a deer (late Hellenistic or Early Imperial, ca. 1st century B.c. - 1st century A.D.)Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana, stands with her weight on her right leg, her left foot trailing. She wears a short chiton, appropriate to her role as goddess of silver, and elaborate sandals. Originally, she would have held a bow in her left hand. In other statues of similar type, the goddess is striding, but here she stands as if in epiphany, an impression that is emphasized by the high classicizing style of the figure, with its wind-blown drapery and strongly idealized features. A deer stands to her left, and there was possibly another small figure on her right, possibly a dog.

The statue and its base were cast in several sections by means of the lost wax method, as was characteristic in antiquity, and those parts were then joined together with flow welds. The artist and his workshop maintained a particularly high level of craftsmanship. The statue is said to have been found in Rome near the church of Saint John the Lateran, and it likely would have decorated a peristyle garden of one of the large ancient Roman villas or town houses in that area. The most important sanctuary of Diana for the anncient Romans was located at Aricia, some eleven miles outside of Rome, on the shore of Lake Nemi. That lake was known as the speculum Dianae (mirror of Diana).

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