Although in fine condition, complete with a rich verdigris patina, it is apparently all that remains of a once spectacular Roman statue.
At 11in (28cm) long, the dimensions suggest the sculpture was near life-sized and probably depicted an actor or a young man. The footwear with elaborate strapping is a variant of the Greek trochades sandal, known to be a favourite of travellers.
In the Roman period, to ask for one’s sandals (poscere soleas) at the end of a meal was a polite way to announce to the host the intention of departing.
This academically significant but also highly decorative object, the property of a London gentleman and previously acquired on the UK art market in the 1990s, had an estimate of £15,000-20,000 at the auction that ran from June 2-7 but was competed to £75,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).