450 BC: Wanting in Delicacy


Athlete with head of Lucius Verus [detail] (c. 460-450 BC); Braccio Nuovo, Vatican. (source)

This portrait-statue, described in the Vatican Catalogue as heroic, is (though larger than life) perhaps as completely the opposite as one can conceive. It may be cited as one of the numerous examples that prove how the ancients, while never wanting in delicacy in any of the representations of the female figure, were frequently so with regard to their male statues. If I might make the distinction, I should call this, not a nude, but a naked figure. It suggests a want of clothing, which would not be the case were it heroic in style and execution. It is six feet ten and a half inches high.

—Robert MacPherson, Vatican Sculptures, Selected, and Arranged in the Order in which they are Found in the Galleries, Briefly Explained by Robert Macpherson (1863)

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