Sunday, April 22, 2007

An iconographical question

I have an issue I'm trying to get to the bottom of, regarding the iconographic attributes of the god Mercury.

The above is Augustin Pajou's Mercure ou le Commerce from 1780. This shows the typical attributes of the god with which we are all familiar. What I am interested in is his winged hat. I'm trying to find when this particular design, a sort of steel helmet, is settled on. I can't find any examples of this exact design predating the Renaissance.

It has similarities to the travelling hat, sometimes winged, sometimes not, which Hermes wears in red-figure vases, such as that depicted in the Sarpedon vase by Euphronios depicted below:

The nearest Greek analogue I can find is on the Hermes Logios now in the Palazzo Altemps, though I can't be sure the head isn't a restoration.

Many Roman examples seem to dispense with any identifiable headpiece beyond the wings, as shown on the Gosbecks Mercury below.

Anyone got any observations, or other examples to present?


Ana Ovando said...

You can find that winged hat in several bronze sculptures, like this one, a Roman Hermes found in a villa near Castellón (Spain). I've seen similar ones in other places of Spain (near Córdoba, for example).

Tony Keen said...

Thank you, that's very helpful.