Ridge tile moulded into a figure. Thick, bushy, fierce eyebrows above wide open eyes with heavy, wide lids. Wide, short upturned nose and small mouth, framed by a curly moustache with wavy ends. A wreath sits atop his parted hair. Ivy wreath, animal ears and beard reveal the head to be that of Silenus. It is not wild, beastliness that is reflected in the furrows of the face, though, but instead mature wisdom. Influenced by portraits of philosophers, this head gives the impression of clarity, knowledge and calm. This is not a wild henchman, then, but Silenus as the worldly-wise tutor of Dionysus. This change in the way Silenus is depicted, as has been observed in several places, began in the late 5th century BC. The head and polychromy are reminiscent of the Boeotian busts or protomas of bearded Dionysus from the late 5th and early 4th centuries BC. Professor Goldberg
describes the way Silenus is represented around the turn of the century as influenced by Phidias. His gold and ivory Zeus statue in Olympia and his work on the Parthenon were the inspiration. Red and black pigment preserved on the face, eye, beard, ear and wreath. The head fits into the mature Classical style described by Riis (9-12) and is similar to types 11 H-J and 12 G-H in: Poul Jørgen Riis. Etruscan Types of Heads: A Revised Chronology of the Archaic and Classical Terracottas of Etruscan Campania and Central Italy. Munksgaard, 1981. This piece matches all of the characteristics of the antefix that appeared on 2nd December 1988, Lot 105A at Sotheby’s New York. It originates from the same model. Remnants of sinter also indicate that both the 1988 Sotheby’s lot and this fragment from Basel originally came from the same temple or private building.