Lot 97. A Roman marble head of a ram, circa 1st century B.C.-1st century A.D.; 10 in. (25.4 cm.) long. Estimate GBP 100,000 - GBP 150,000. Price realised GBP 275,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019
Provenance: Norbert Schimmel (1905-1990) collection, New York, acquired prior to 1964.
Norbert Schimmel Collection, Sotheby's, New York, 16 December 1992, lot 62.
Antiquities, Sotheby's, New York, 31 May 1997, lot 108.
Antiquities, Christie's, New York, 8 June 2005, lot 74.
with Safani Gallery, New York, 2010.
Exhibited: The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ancient Art, The Norbert Schimmel Collection, 1974-1976.
Ägyptisches Museum Berlin, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Prähistorischen Staatsammlung Munich, Von Troja bis Amarna, The Norbert Schimmel Collection, New York, 1978.
Published: O.W. Muscarella, ed., Ancient Art: The Norbert Schimmel Collection, Mainz, 1974, no. 43 (exhibition catalogue).
J. Settgast, et al., Von Troja bis Amarna: The Norbert Schimmel Collection, New York, Mainz, 1978, no. 108 (exhibition catalogue).
Note: The original function of this ram head is difficult to ascertain. As Hoffman informs (Muscarella, op. cit., no. 43) there are traces of projections preserved along the edge of the surviving horn. This suggests that the piece was either architectural, or, if from a free-standing sculpture, that the head was turned sharply to its left. Ram heads and other animals are commonly employed as architectural embellishments. They are particularly common on the upper corners of Roman funerary altars, but the absence of the ties from a hanging garland, in combination with the degree of completeness of the underside of the head, argue against such an attribution. For a related ram head in Boston, thought to be Greek, circa 4th century B.C., see no. 39 in Comstock and Vermeule, Sculpture in Stone, which "must have been a dedication in a temple-precinct, a work of art akin to Myron's famous cow." The Schimmel ram may also have been part of a larger mythological group, perhaps depicting the escape of Odysseus' men from the cave of Polyphemos. See for example the figure of a ram carrying Odysseus in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, Rome, fig. 402 in Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age. The Schimmel ram has traditionally been attributed to the Roman Period, and has been catalogued as such here. However, we acknowledge the strong possibility that this is, like the Boston ram, a Greek original of the 4th century B.C.