Click an image to view a larger version
Apollo as mounted
Apollo, before cleaning
Bust, before cleaning
Detail, Apollo as mounted
Including damaged half
Partial view, before cleaning and separation
The youthful Apollo appears in a landscape, holding his bow and resting on his quiver, while leaning on a support. The atmospherically rendered tree in the background, the three-dimensional support, and Apollo’s arm that comes forward in space are typical of the classical approach to images with figures on pavements—rendered as a three-dimensional picture—like a picture on a wall—despite its placement on the floor and the contradiction of walking on “space.” Roman mosaics were made of tesserae, durable cubes of marble, stone, and glass, set together to suggest forms, figures, and shading that imitated paintings, besides a wide repertory of geometric patterns. Glass tesserae were used to intensify colors and to create bright reflections, found here in the dark blue of the sandals, the greens of the cloak, the crown, and the ground below the feet, and a few orange highlights. Because the glass has deteriorated after centuries of exposure to soil acids, these areas are now irregular and not as brilliant as they originally were.
Apollo wears a laurel crown, probably alluding to his amorous but unsuccessful pursuit of a maiden, Daphne, who was transformed into a laurel tree (daphne in Greek) to escape his unwanted embraces. The site of the pursuit, near Antioch, was named Daphne, and a temple to Apollo was built there. The god was known as Apollo Daphneios at this site.
This mosaic was found in the House of the Red Pavement as part of a series of four panels. The panel with three-dimensional rectangles rendered in perspective on display in the Front Hall of the Museum is from the same corridor.
Antioch-on-the-Orontes: Publications of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity, vol. 3 The Excavations of 1937-1939 (Princeton, 1941), 197, no. 144, pl. 70, panel B.
D. Levi, Publications of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity, vol. 4 Antioch Mosaic Pavements (Princeton, 1947), 8-89, pl. 14b, fig. 34.
G. Bühl, ed., Dumbarton Oaks: The Collections (Washington, D.C., 2008), 30, pl. p. 31.
Excavated at Antioch, Syria, 1939, [Daphne-Harbie 26-M/N, House 2 (House of the Red Pavement), Room 6 (c472-M185)].
Fogg Art Museum (acc. no. 1939.310). 1941-1967.
Gift of the Fogg Art Museum to Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC, 1967.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, DC.