• The William F. Reilly Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 2273

    The William F. Reilly Collection

    14 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 55

    A COLOSSAL ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPEROR TRAJAN

    REIGN 98-117 A.D.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A COLOSSAL ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPEROR TRAJAN
    REIGN 98-117 A.D.
    His long wavy locks combed forward over the crown of the head, their pointed tips curving left across the forehead, the locks defined by deep drill-work and incision, the large almond-shaped eyes framed by thick lids, the inner canthi deeply drilled, the modelled brows overhanging the inner corners of the eyes, with vertical furrows above the nose, the thin lips pursed, the outer corners slightly downturned and framed by pronounced nasolabial folds, the muscular neck rippled from the slight turn to his left
    19½ in. (49.5 cm.) high


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    The Emperor Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Traianus), the first to be born in a province, ruled from A.D. 98 to 117. An outstanding commander, the Empire reached its greatest expansion during his reign. He was also a wise administrator and initiated numerous building campaigns in the provinces as well as in Rome, highlighted by the grandiose forum that bears his name.

    Although his portraiture hearkens back to that of Augustus, Trajan's images abandon the Augustan taste for an eternally youthful visage in favor of reflecting the fact that he was forty-five years old when he came to power. According to Kleiner (Roman Sculpture, p. 208), the portraits made during his lifetime have been divided into several types: "a first type that dates to the few years after his adoption by Nerva, a second type created in about 103, the Decennial type of 108 - celebrating the 10th anniversary of his reign - and a few postdecennial types, including the Sacrifice type, so called because it appears time and again on the Column of Trajan in numerous sacrifice scenes. The distinctions among the types are very subtle and have to do for the most part with the arrangement of the hair over the forehead and on the nape of the neck."
    The present head compares to the first type, the so-called "Bürgerkronnen Typus" (see for example no. 33 in Johansen, Katalog Romerske Portraetter, II, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek).

    Provenance

    Swiss Private Collection, 1990s.
    with Phoenix Ancient Art, Geneva.
    with Ariadne Galleries, New York.
    Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 12 June 2001, lot 54.