The subject is thought to be Polideuce, the pupil of the wealthy politician and philosopher Herodes Atticus (101-177AD). It is usually understood that the two had a love affair and, when Polideuce died in 173-174, Herodes began a process of very public grieving, erecting statues and monuments to his pupil and encouraged his veneration as a hero.
Hadrian had treated his beloved Antinous in much the same way.
Another portrait bust of Polideuce is in the Sir John Soane’s Museum.
This example, measuring 11in (28cm) high, came for sale at Dreweatts (26/25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) in Newbury on August 15 as part of a consignment from the interior decorator Anouska Hempel. It had been at her home, Shaw House in Wiltshire, since she purchased it in the 1980s from the London dealership Mallet.
Among the best-performing items in the 212-lot sale, it was guided at £3000-5000 but hammered at £35,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).
God of war
Very much the star turn in Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s (25% buyer’s premium) summer auction was a 12¼in (31cm) high white marble bust of a youthful Ares.
The Greek god of war is shown wearing a cuirass, an elaborate helmet decorated with gryphons and scrolls and confronting panthers. It is thought to be a Roman copy from the 2nd century AD of the Greek original by Alcamenes, the ancient Greek sculptor who was active in the second half of the 5th century BC.
The bust is set on a later rouge griotte marble socle, taking the overall height to 16¼in (39cm).
BHL offered it with a guide of £2000-4000 but it was taken to £40,000 on July 11-12, the highest price of the auction.