Culture

Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Statue of the young god Hermes, known as ‘Capitoline Antinous’

This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble statue of a young nude, the so-called ‘Capitoline Antinous’. It was found in 1723/24 during the time when Giuseppe Fede was undertaking the earliest concerted excavations at the Villa Adriana. However its exact provenance within the Villa is unknown.

The so-called Capitoline Antinous, now considered to be a late Hadrianic / early Antonine copy of an early 4th century BC Greek statue of Hermes, found at Hadrian’s Villa Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums

Considering that this work was found at Villa Adriana and owing to its melancholy gaze, the statue was thought to represent Hadrian’s lover Antinous. Until the end of the 19th century it was even regarded as the most famous statue of Antinous. After a long debate among scholars, the statue was finally identified as Hermes, the messenger god, because the head differed so radically from the recognized Antinous types.

The Capitoline Antinous, now considered to be a late Hadrianic / early Antonine copy of an early 4th century BC Greek statue of Hermes, found at Hadrian’s Villa, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums

The god Hermes is depicted at a young age and is entirely naked. He is shown in a quiet moment and is delicately posed; his pelvis is turned slightly to the right with a corresponding torsion of the head and shoulders. His hair is a work of carefully sculpted curls and are reminiscent of the style of Praxiteles, the famous 4th century BC Greek sculptor (see the Praxiteles’ Hermes).

Originally part of the Albani collection, the statue was acquired by Pope Clement XII in 1733 and subsequently moved to the Capitoline Museums where it remains today. The work dates to the late Hadrianic / early Antonine period (c. 130-150 AD) and is a copy of an earlier 4th century BC Greek statue.

The so-called Capitoline Antinous, now considered to be a late Hadrianic / early Antonine copy of an early 4th century BC Greek statue of Hermes, found at Hadrian’s Villa Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums

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Originally published on Following Hadrian, republished with permission.
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Carole Raddato's favourite hobby is travelling and for the last 8 years she has taken a huge interest in the history of the ancient world. She has dedicated all her free time to this passion. She loves to share with other history fans all the incredible facts and stories that she discovers throughout her journeys. She is neither a professional photographer nor an ancient history scholar, but she hopes that everybody can enjoy her photos. She is particularly interested in everything related to the emperor Hadrian whom she finds fascinating. He was himself an incessant traveller, visiting every province in the Empire during his reign. When Carole is looking for new ideas for her travels, she usually takes inspiration from his journeys and it is a great motivation for her to follow him in his footsteps.