Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 3rd century CE. A leaded bronze bust of the god Mercury, depicted here with winged arms, a nude bust, a strap across his chest, and a sensitive, downturned face. He has a dramatic hairstyle, often indicative of the god, ending in a point above his head. His eyes once would have been inlaid, probably with stone, to give them a more lifelike appearance. This item likely served as a decorative applique on a piece of furniture or large vessel. Size: 3.2" W x 3.4" H (8.1 cm x 8.6 cm); 4.45" H (11.3 cm) on included custom stand.
Mercury was one of the major Classical deities, the patron god of financial success and commerce, as well as eloquence and poetry. He was a trickster god, and he also acted as a psychopomp, leading souls to the underworld. Ovid wrote that Mercury also carried Morpheus's dreams from the valley of Somnus to sleeping humans. For these reasons, he came to be seen as the "keeper of boundaries," forming a bridge between the upper and lower worlds. He also fulfilled that role by acting as a messenger for the other gods.
Provenance: ex-William Froelich collection, New York, USA, acquired in the 1970s
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Tiny area of corrosion on underside. Otherwise in very nice condition with a shiny, dark patina and light encrustation on surface.