Large Roman Marble Cupid With Inscription


CA. 200 AD Roman, Imperial Period. Skillfully carved in the round, a cherubic youth – nude and ‘fleshy’- standing and motioning toward his right given that his right leg is turned out, his body is twisted toward the right, and his left arm is raised across his chest. Note the tree stump behind his right leg – this device was used as a support in large-scale marble sculptures, since marble lacked the tensile strength of bronze and required supports which were oftentimes carved in the form of tree trunks. Perhaps this piece was a maquette for a larger sculpture.

In addition, the figure stands on a square plinth that features an inscription which translates, “Tatas, son of Theouphistos, [fulfilled this] vow.” According to our translator, the name Theouphistos is unusual because of the u in the middle (Theophistos would be more usual). This said, unusual spellings are not terribly uncommon. Also, it is also possible that the Phi was a mistake for Psi. In this case, the inscription would mean, “Tatas [fulfilled this] vow to the highest god (or God the highest).” However, this is less likely, because (1) it requires an inscriptional error, (2) it would be unusual for the first letter of a word to be on a separate line from the rest of the word, and (3) the iota subscripts are not included anywhere in the inscription.

Size: L:520mm / W:230mm ; 21.6kg

Provenance: Property of a Central London Gallery, acquired by a private collector, formerly in a private East Coast, USA collection; ex collection from Germany; ex-private Belgium collection, acquired in 1980s

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