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Hecate

Unknownc. 1500

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This figure of a woman wearing a long, belted dress and striding forward vigorously is one of the artistically most important and thematically most unusual of all Renaissance small bronzes. In her hands she is holding her attributes (the present ones are later replacements): a burning heart in her extended left, and a torch in her lowered right. In all probability, the three-headed statuette is Hecate, described by the Paduan humanist Pierio Valeriano as a cross of the moon with Diana and Proserpine. The small bronze figure was already recorded in the inventory of the collection of humanist patrician and art chronicler Marcantonio Michiel (1484–1552), which lists “una figura con tre faccie”. The figure, with its three faces symbolizing three different ages, may also be interpreted as Prudentia, the allegory of prudence, in which case the three faces symbolize the past, present and future.

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