Female bust of a Bacchante. Maenad of Dionysiac cycle.

Bacchante,Bacchus, Maenad,  Ancient Greek, Bust, British Museum
Bust of a Bacchante

Bust of a Bacchante.

Female bust, with the upper part of the head bound round with a fillet. Under the hair and across the forehead runs a narrow band, not represented in the Plate, and barely distinguishable in the original, except by the touch. This appears to be worn in this peculiar form by Bacchus and other personages of the Dionysiac cycle.

This bust has been called that of a Maenad ( μαινάδες, mainádes ) or Bacchante, an attribution which, in spite of the comparatively mild expression of the countenance, the comparison of other Bacchic types would seem fully to justify.

The hair rises from the head in large flowing locks, not unlike that of the Satyrs, and falls over the temples in wild fantastic curls. There are few, if any, examples in other European museums of heads resembling the one before us; though instances of the band on the forehead, passing under the hair, are by no means uncommon on the heads of Bacchantes. It is possible, however, that the present marble may represent Ariadne, who was usually sculptured with some of the symbols and characteristics of Dionysiac figures.

This bust, which was found in 1776, outside the Porta San Pancrazio at Rome, is perfect, except the nose, which has been restored. It is of Parian marble, and in height 12 1/2 inches, without the pedestal.

Source: A description of the collection of ancient Marbles in the British Museum by Combe Taylor, London 1861.

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