Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Marble head of a female divinity, Persephone?

This month’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble head of a female divinity, probably Persephone, the daughter of Demeter and queen of the underworld.

Bust of a female divinity (Persephone?), from the Nymphaeum at Hadrian's Villa, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

Head of a female divinity (Persephone?), from the Nymphaeum at Hadrian’s Villa
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome
Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

The head is closely related to the head of Persephone which is on display in the Museo Barracco in Rome (the Barracco-Budapest type female head, Inv. MB 85), and to the statue of Persephone recently excavated at Rione Terra near Naples and now in the Castello Aragonese in Baia (Kore-Persephone). Another marble head of Persephone from the Hadrianic era was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in 2013.

The head was probably part of a larger than life-size statue inspired by a Greek work in the Severe style of the 5th century BC. It was found in 1927 inside the cryptoporticus near the nymphaeum.

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