Marble disk with a herm of Dionysus in relief

Period: Early Imperial

Date: 3rd quarter of 1st century A.D.

Culture: Roman

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: diameter 8 1/4in. (21cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1926

Accession Number: 26.60.27


This small, delicately carved relief depicts a herm of the god Dionysos in three-quarter view with an elaborate turban and a wreath of grape leaves. In antiquity, such reliefs adorned private Roman houses and gardens where Dionysiac themes created a much-desired milieu of civilized, leisurely enjoyment.
Roman decorative relief sculptures rarely retain any evidence of their original polychromy. On this exceptionally well preserved example, however, considerable amounts of ancient paint remain, indicating that the relief background was blue, the turban was a brilliant pink, and the frame molding was adorned with a reddish pink continuous wave pattern.