Arm probably from a statue of Diana

Roman, 1st Century AD

Arm probably from a statue of Diana

17.5 x 46.5 cm

Paul Munro-Walker, acquired on the London art market during 1978
Vecchi and Sons, London, acquired from the above 3rd May 1983
Private Collection, UK, to 2019

This fine fragmentary bronze of a right forearm and hand, broken off at the bicep, is of a strikingly high quality. It is comparable with another fragmentary Left arm - thought to be Late Hellenistic Greek or Early Imperial Roman - in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (96.667, see fig.1.). However, the present bronze, although slightly smaller, is in better condition. It likely comes from a close to life-size statue of the goddess Diana (see Sotheby’s, 7 June 2007, lot 41, A Bronze Figure of Artemis and the Stag, fig.2.)

The arm, slightly bent at the elbow shows the hand clasped around a now lost spear or bow. The thumb is extended, whilst the forefinger is slightly curled and the other fingers all individually realised curled tighter. The cast has been skilfully engineered to include two small hollow cubes at the top and bottom of the palm, carefully concealed by the fingers, so that the attribute could be held in place. By removing the necessity for the fingers themselves to grip such an object, the sculptor has given himself the freedom to render each individual finger individually more naturalistically. Furthermore, given the likely viewing distance of the original life size bronze would have been from afar or from below, such exaggeration in the individual form of each finger would have helped the statue to appear more realistic from a distance.