Robert MacPherson Statue of Sophocles, Rome, Italy
Medium Albumen print from wet plate negative
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1850s Print Date 1861c
Dimensions 14-11/16 x 9-1/8 in. (373 x 232 mm)
Photo Country Italy
Photographer Country Scotland
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
With J.H. initials and 1861 date in pencil in lower left corner. From a group of MacPherson's on identical mounts in identical print formats, some with Spithoven blindstamps and all coming from Vatican collections.
This is a Roman copy of a Greek original of the late 4th century B.C., probably from the circle of the sculptor Leochares. It is likely that this portrait derived from a bronze original set up in the theater of Dionysos in Athens by Lycurgos, the leader of Athens, in the 340s BC. The Roman copy is in the Vatican in Rome.
Sophocles was one of the foremost writers of Greek tragedies in the 5th century B.C., author of Oedipus the King, the Antigone, and more than 120 other plays--only seven have survived (in addition to the ones just mentioned: Ajax, Electra, Trachiniae, Philocletes, and Oedipus Coloneus). Here he is shown with a circlet in his hair, an honor granted him after his death allowing his worship as the Heros Dexion who introduced the cult of the healing god Asklepios into Athens. At the feet of the poet is a round container holding eight scrolls, a reference to his seven extant tragedies and one satyr play.
Provenance: old collection of J. Harrison, Jr. purchased in 1861.