• Antiquities  auction at Christies

    Sale 2232

    Antiquities

    11 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 148

    A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT BUST OF A JULIO-CLAUDIAN PRINCE

    CIRCA 1ST HALF OF THE 1ST CENTURY A.D.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT BUST OF A JULIO-CLAUDIAN PRINCE
    CIRCA 1ST HALF OF THE 1ST CENTURY A.D.
    Perhaps Nero Iulius or Drusus Iulius, the two elder sons of Germanicus, brothers of the future emperor Gaius Caesar (Caligula), depicted as a young boy, his head turned to his left, his short wavy hair brushed forward, the characteristic parted locks breaking to the left and right, the locks brushed to the left and right down the nape of his neck, his unarticulated eyes with thick lids, recessed below thin straight brows, the closed mouth with a thin upper lip and undulating lower lip, the philtrum indicated
    13 3/8 in. (34 cm.) high


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    This bust was acquired by the German dealer Dr. Lederer in February 1930 from an art dealer in Paris for 4,525 DM; he did so on the advice of Professor Blumel of the Altes Museum in Berlin who accompanied him at the time. Wilhelm Horn purchased the bust a few days later, and the identity of the portrait has been a subject of discussion ever since.

    Blumel was of the opinion that it was a portrait of the young Augustus; he had a cast of a similar head of a young Augustus in the Vatican collection made for the Altes Museum. Professor Zahn, also of Berlin, was of the same opinion because of the great similarity to Augustus as a young man. The fact that juvenile portraits of Augustus existed was reported by the Roman author Suetonius in his work, The Twelve Caesars, in ch. 7 on Augustus where he refers to a bronze statue, "I once obtained a bronze statuette, representing him [Augustus] as a boy and inscribed with that name in letters of iron almost illegible from age. This I presented to the emperor [Hadrian], who cherishes it among the Lares of his bed-chamber."

    A letter dated 30 June 1930 from the Director of the Museé d'Art et d'Histoire in Geneva identified the portrait as Gaius or Lucius Caesar and cited a very similar portrait (acquired in Italy and from the Sarasin collection) in his own museum as a comparison (accession no. 8935, published in the Geneva Catalogue of Ancient Sculpture, 1923, no. 125, p. 92). In January 1938, Professor Kehler from Budapest visited the Horns and also pronounced it to be a portrait of Lucius.

    Some more recent opinions have tended to identify the portrait as Gaius Caesar. Although now it has been postulated that the bust more likely represents Nero Iulius or Drusus Iulius, sons of Germanicus and brothers of the future emperor Caligula.

    For a discussion of the bust and its identification with references, see Megow, op. cit.

    Provenance

    Dr. Lederer, acquired in Paris, 1930.
    The Collection of the Late Wilhelm Horn (1870-1959); Christie's, London, 18 October 2005, lot 40.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR. & MRS. CHARLES W. NEWHALL, III


    Literature

    K.A. Neugebauer, Antiken in Deutschem Privatbesitz, Berlin, 1938, p. 17, no. 31., pl. 16.
    W. R. Megow, Antiken aus rheinischem Privatbesitz, Rheinischen Landesmuseum, Bonn, 1973, pp. 214-215, no. 356, pl. 161.


    Exhibited

    Berlin, Antiken in Deutschem Privatbesitz, 1938.
    Bonn, Rheinischen Landesmuseum, Antiken aus rheinischem Privatbesitz, 1973 - 1974.