This charming marble head represents a young man with a thin face, full and plump lips and wavy hair. Slightly leaning forward, this head is now mounted on a cylindrical base also in marble. We can assume that this piece was originally a complete body and that the head was separated, as evidenced by the break in the neck. We can also assume, from the inclination of the head, that the original body displayed a certain contrapposto: a traditional posture in the representation of the human body during the Renaissance.
This soft and elegant face is reminiscent of ancient representations of the handsome young man: the beautiful ephebe. A true ideal of male beauty for the ancients, the handsome ephebe is a model of physical perfection. Alexander the Great will give his features to representations of the young ephebe at the beginning of his reign. This model of representation of the handsome young man with the face of Alexander will spread throughout the Mediterranean basin during Antiquity, and with the rediscovery of the latter at the beginning of the Renaissance, the model will again be taken up to spread in Europe.
Our piece is therefore an excellent example of a modern creation called “à l’Antique”: a model dating from Antiquity taken up during the Renaissance.

Head of a young man – Marble – Italy – 16th century


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