c1890 Bronze Head of Herculaneum Seated Hermes


A beautiful bronze head of ‘Seated Hermes’, that was found at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum in 1758, is at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

This statue was probably the most celebrated work of art discovered at Herculaneum and Pompeii in the eighteenth century. The head is lifesize and a very good representation of the original, but has been torn off, with considerable force, from a full statue, somehow. The head was uncovered amongst vegetation in a garden in England. It was probably produced in the late 19th century, by one of the Italian Foundries in Naples. From the 1860s, the National Archaeological Museum at Naples began granting permits for the official production of copies of their extraordinary collection of sculptures, which included the finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum. In the late nineteenth century, a variety of firms in Naples saw the opportunity to capitalize on the flourishing interest in the Vesuvian sites and produced replicas alongside photographs and other mementos for travellers. Museums, educational institutions, private individuals and even hotels were eager buyers of such replicas during the 19th and early 20th centuries, commissioning them as valuable teaching tools or as substitutes for the originals they could never own.

The original is housed at the royal villa at Portici. It is classified as a Roman copy, made before AD 79, of a Greek bronze original of the late fourth or early third century BC, in the tradition of Lysippos, whose name has been invoked in connection with the sculpture since its first reappearance. Many bronze statues posed on actual rocks must have been set up in late Hellenistic and Roman gardens, where natural boulders increased the idyllic aspect of the composition. Hermes rests his hand casually on the (restored) rock, integrating the composition.

Size: 16 x 22 x 27 cm (6 1/4 x 8 5/8 x 10 5/8 inches)
Weight: 5.2 Kg