Metapontum. Nomos circa 290-280, AR 7.89 g. Diademed head of Heracles r., lion's skin tied around neck and club over l. shoulder. Rev. META Ear of barley with leaf to r., on which kantharos; beneath leaf, [BI]. Kraay-Hirmer pl. 85, 248. Johnston D 4.3. Historia Numorum Italy 1621.
Rare and possibly the finest specimen known. Struck on a very broad flan and
with a delicate iridescent tone. Virtually as struck and almost Fdc
Ex Tkalec sale 28 October 1994, 22.The staters of Metapontum from the mid-4th through to the mid-3rd Century B.C. offer an interesting combination of predictability and variety: predictable due to the consistent use of the grain-ear reverse type, varied because many different portraits were employed. Demeter, Apollo, Zeus, Heracles and Leucippus and Tharragoras are all honoured with portraits rendered in a wide variety of styles, some of which were nearly full-facing. One of the rare surprises is this issue with the bearded head of Heracles. In her die study of Metapontine staters, Johnston identified three dies for this remarkable issue. The obverse die of the coin offered here is of superior craftsmanship compared with the other two to such an extent that we would be led to believe that this is the prototype of the issue executed by a highly skilled engraver, whilst the other two are inferior copies produced by his apprentices. Johnston also remarks on this difference in quality and suggests that different artists were at work; she also notes that the other two obverse dies share a common reverse die, whereas this obverse die is paired with its own reverse die. The sculptural prototype for this Hercules head can only belong to the category of sculptures now classified as the ‘Farnese Hercules’, which is most popularly represented by the statue now in the Naples Archeological Museum. That particular sculpture is a Roman copy of a Greek work thought to have been cast in bronze later in the 4th Century B.C. by Lysippus of Sicyon or by a sculptor from his circle. The engraver of this die captured the weariness of that Heracles, imbuing the portrait with life by capturing a flow of motion in hair, the bowed diadem, and the beard that is similar in form to that of the famous portrait of Sophocles in the Vatican. (see Richter, Greek Portraits, p. 207). Of equal fascination is the resemblance with this portrait to the most skilful obverse dies of roughly contemporary Roman Republican didrachms with the head of Heracles on the obverse and the she-wolf and twins on the reverse (Cr. 20/1); the facial features are so similar that even though the Metapontine portrait is bearded and the Roman is clean-shaven, they are none the less comparable.
|Price realized||30'000 CHF|
|Starting price||16'000 CHF|