Head of a pondering Muse (Polyhymnia)


The head of the Muse Polyhymnia is broken just below the chin. It belonged to a statue showing the "songful" Muse leaning on her right arm, leaning against a rocky pillar and gazing pensively into the distance. The type is known from a Hellenistic relief created and signed by the artist Archelaos from Priene. The marble relief shows the apotheosis of the poet Homer at the foot of Muses Mountain. Analogous to this representation and other statuary repetitions, the girl was depicted standing and wrapped in a cloak. The loosely gathered strands of hair are tied into a ponytail, which is freely worked and stands out from the head. Remnants of original painting have survived both in the hair and on the face. Not only has the compact mass of hair been coloured with brown paint, but fine hairs at the hairline and small curls at the temples have also been painted on. Remains of paint can also be found on the eyes, the vividness of which can still be guessed from the painting of the iris, pupils and eyebrows. An ancient coating of beeswax protected the paint from peeling off. The head is thus a telling example of the former colourfulness of ancient marble statues, of which only little remains.

Material & Technique
2nd half of the 1st cent. CE, after an original dating to c. 160 BCE
Inventory number
Hm 173