Bust of Serapis (Primary Title)
Bust of Serapis (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

2nd century A.D.
bronze (copper alloy with silver inlay)
Overall (without base): 14 9/16 × 7 11/16 × 3 3/4 in. (36.99 × 19.53 × 9.53 cm)
Overall (with base): 18 3/4 × 7 11/16 × 4 in. (47.63 × 19.53 × 10.16 cm)

The cult of Serapis was created by the Ptolemies in Egypt as part of their efforts to blend traditional Egyptian and Greek religion. The god combined the features of the Egyptian gods Apis and Osiris with the iconography of bearded Greek deities such as Zeus and Hades. This bust is based on the cult image in the famous Serapeum (temple of Serapis), which showed Serapis with a modius (grain measure) on his head symbolizing Egypt’s fertility.

The emperor Septimius Severus (reigned 193-211) modeled many of his portraits on Zeus Serapis.

two labels adhered to back of marble base: (1) barcode 01633849, and (2) June 5, 1998, Sale 8900 Lot 182.
Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund
Mayo, Margaret Ellen, and Heather S. Russell. Ancient Art: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1998. (pp. 84-85)

Christie’s. Antiquities, sale catalogue. New York, 5 June 1998, cat no. 182, catalogue cover ill.

Clerc, Gisèle, and Jean Leclant. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae VII, s.v. “Serapis 104.” Union Académique Internationale and UNESCO.

Kater-Sibbes, G. J. F. Preliminary Catalogue of Sarapis Monuments. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers, 1973, no. 373.

Mitten, David Gordon, and Suzannah F. Doeringer. Master Bronzes from the Classical World. Mainz, Germany: Philipp von Zabern, 1967, p. 278, no. 271.

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