Greek - A Goddess (Persephone), about 20 BC-50 AD


A Goddess (Persephone), about 20 BC-50 AD

Greek Island marble, 39.4 cm (15 1/2 in.)


Object details

Accession number



Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner for 30,000 lire from an unknown art dealer in Rome on 18 June 1901, through the art historian and archaeologist Richard Norton (1872-1918).


Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), pp. 3-4. (as "Statue of a Woman...Found in Rome"; Greek)
S. Reinach. Répertoire de la statuaire grecque at romaine, III (Paris, 1913), p. 412.
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 43. (Graeco-Roman, 1st century [AD?], after a Greek original by a follower of Praxiteles, about 4th century BC)
Cornelius C. Vermeule III et al. Sculpture in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1977), pp. 10-11, no. 12. (Greek, 1st century BC-1st century AD, after a Greek original of about 350 BC, Praxitelean or post-Praxitelean)
Cornelius C. Vermeule III. "Classical Art" in James Thomas Herbert Baily (ed.). The Connoisseur: An Illustrated Magazine for Collectors 128 "Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum" (London, 1978), p. 45, no. 1. (Graeco-Roman, late Hellenistic to early Roman imperial, after a Praxitelean funerary figure of about 340 BC)
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), p. 8. (Greek, about 20 BC-50 AD, after a Greek original of about 340 BC)

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The marble statue of a goddess, possibly Persephone, stands watch over the courtyard. Her left arm, now missing, may have held an attribute like a pomegranate. She was sculpted from Greek island marble during the first century B.C. or A.D., but she is draped in clothing typical of around 340 B.C., and has a 4th century B.C. hair style. This indicates that she is probably based on a Praxitelean funerary figure. Praxiteles was one of the most renowned sculptors in Athens during the 4th century B.C., and there are numerous Hellenistic and Roman copies by followers of the sculptor.

The 19th century saw an increased fervor for collecting ancient Greek and Roman art. Richard Norton (1872-1918), Director of the Archaeological Institute of America, helped assemble Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collection of ancient sculpture. With his recommendations, Gardner focused her collecting on Classical marble pieces that echoed the figures in her prized Renaissance paintings.