Hellenistic Terracotta Head of Silenus

£ 500.00

A finely modelled glazed composition applique in the shape of a bearded man’s head, possibly a Silenus. The figure’s beard and hair are shaped in thick tendrils, incised with diagonal lines to present the illusion of curling ringlets. The addition of a yellow/brown pigment on the hair and eyebrows adds definition to these features for a more naturalistic look.

Date: Circa 3rd - 1st century BC
Provenance: From the Ingrid McAlpine collection, 1939 - 2018, London and Epsom.
Condition: Fine, with original pigments and colourful glaze visible to the surface.


Product Code: GS-37
Category: Tags: , , ,

The mythical figure of Silenus, believed to have been the father of the satyrs, was usually portrayed as an old friendly man, often alongside grapes and wine vessels or Dionysus himself, due to his association with the god, as well as themes of wine-making and drunkenness. The angle of the head of this particular example, though separated from the original body, is reminiscent of more famous large-scale depictions of Silenus in which he is often gazing down at the infant Dionysus in his arms or, alternatively, a cup of wine. Coloured pigment was used to decorate Greek statuary of all shapes and sizes. The choice and number of colours would vary depending on the style and material of the piece. Some such as this used more naturalistic tones, whilst others displayed bold and bright colours for a different aesthetic appeal.

To find out more about the use of coloured pigments in Ancient Greece, visit our relevant post: Polychromy in Ancient Greek Sculptural Production.

Dimensions H 6 cm



Southern Europe

Roman Mythology