Stop 32. Running Eros, Holding a Torch


2nd or 1st century BC [200–0 BC?]
23 3/16 inches (589 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1902


Joshua O’Driscoll, Associate Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
Morgan collected a vast number of antiquities, some from excavations that he sponsored. Most of these objects are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he served as president, or at the Wadsworth Atheneum, in his native Hartford, to which they were presented by his son, Jack, following Morgan’s death. During his lifetime, however, Morgan chose a select few antiquities to keep with him in his library.

Among his favorite objects was this bronze figure. This depiction of Eros as a winged child bearing a torch was excavated from the ruins of a cluster of Roman villas located in Boscoreale, a town buried in the same Mount Vesuvius eruption that destroyed nearby Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD. The theme of love and desire, personified by Eros, was a favorite decorative motif for garden statuary appropriate to the informal atmosphere of these ancient resort towns where many wealthy Romans had villas.