Chalcedony Statuette of a Herm of Herakles, Roman Imperial, 2nd Century AD
While sculptures of bronze and marble are among the most well-known artistic legacies of Greece and Rome, ancient artists also produced fine works of sculpture in other materials such as terracotta, ivory, gold, silver, glass, and rare or semi-precious stone. Some artists possessed the remarkable skills needed to transform hard stone into miniature sculpture worthy of comparison with the finest works in bronze and marble. This extraordinary and finely made statuette of Herakles is just such an object. It stands out as a masterwork, even when considered among the small number of other stone statuettes that are known, and testifies to the superior talent of artists who created such luxuria during the Roman Imperial Period. This type of herm representing Herakles first appears in the Greek Hellenistic period and becomes prevalent during Roman Imperial times. This herm is supported by a golden pedestal of 18th century date, following a custom of the time for mounting such rare objects.