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Bust of an Unknown Man

Artist Culture
Imperial period, 27 BC–AD 330
Antonine period, Roman, 138–192 AD
2nd century
Associated with
Rome, Lazio, Roman Empire, Italy
Sculpture, stone & mineral
Current Location
On View, Gallery 208
32 x 22 1/8 in. (81.3 x 56.2 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
This bust of an unidentified man exemplifies a very high standard of carving and finish—the marble skin practically glows! The sculptor has taken advantage of the natural properties of marble in contrasting the smooth polish of the skin with the textured matte hair. The technical skill of the artist and high quality of the marble suggest that this work was created for a wealthy patron.
Feuardent Frères, Paris, France [1]

Friedrich L. von Gans (1833-1920), Frankfurt am Main, Germany, purchased from Feuardent Frères [2]

by 1921 - 1923
Galerie Bachstitz of the Hague, The Netherlands, acquired from Friedrich L. von Gans [3]

1923 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Galerie Bachstitz [4]

[1] An unsigned document, probably written by Kurt Bachstitz, owner of Galerie Bachstitz, indicates that the bust was purchased by von Gans from Feuardent Frères, at the recommendation of Pierre Mavrogordato, an archaeologist and expert. He adds that it is believed to have been found in a well near Athens, Greece [SLAM document files].

[2] Letters dated June 13 and July 30, 1923 from Robert Zahn confirm that the head was in the possession of von Gans before being acquired by Galerie Bachstitz. In the June 13 letter Zahn clarifies that he wrote the article published in the Bachstitz catalog "for Herr von Gans himself, years and years before he had any idea of selling his collection." He explains in the July 30 letter that he supervised cleaning of the bust at the request of von Gans [SLAM document files; Zahn, Robert. "Sammlungen der Galerie Bachstitz Gravenhage: Antike, islamische Arbeiten und der Kunstgewerbes." Vol. 2, 1921, p. 74, cat. no. 222, pl. 91-93].

[3] See note [2].

[4] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, April 6, 1923.
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