This statue was bought by Pope Paul III (1534-1549) to decorate a niche in the Courtyard of Statues (Cortile delle Statue). It was found around 1540 in the gardens surrounding the Mausoleum of Hadrian (Castel Sant'Angelo) and for this reason it was long held to be a statue of Antinous, the Emperor Hadrian's favourite. The work certainly dates from the time of Hadrian, and shows Hermes in his role as Psychopompos, who guides the souls of the dead to the Underworld.
The god is shown awaiting the deceased, melancholy and with his gaze lowered; his travelling cloak is thrown over his shoulder and wrapped around his forearm. The iconography (Andros-Farnese) is well known and was inspired by bronze statues of the school of Praxiteles.