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    Sale 2007

    Antiquities

    4 June 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 245

    A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF A YOUTHFUL NERO

    CIRCA MID 1ST CENTURY A.D.

    Price Realised  

    A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF A YOUTHFUL NERO
    CIRCA MID 1ST CENTURY A.D.
    Depicted as an adolescent, lifesized, with his head inclined slightly to his right, his hair brushed forward in the characteristic style, arranged in short overlapping locks dividing just to the left of the bridge of his nose, a single lock curving inward before each ear, his features modelled with high cheek bones, his thin brows arching slightly over lidded convex unarticulated eyes, the inner canthi deeply drilled, his bow-shaped mouth with the thin lips pursed, the top lip dipping at the center, the philtrum indicated, the strong chin pointed, his prominent ears flaring outward, two "Venus"-lines sculpted along his neck, originally set into a bust or a full figure
    11¾ in. (29.8 cm.) high


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    The high cheekbones, thin lips, cartiligial bump on the nose and hair style conform to the second portrait type of the Emperor Nero. Issued around the time of his accession in 54 AD at the age of 17, this portrait type recalls the features of his Julio-Claudian ancestors. The characteristic brushed forward hair was established in his earlier portrait type prior to his assumption of the toga virilis in 51 AD. See, for example, a togate portrait statue in the Detroit Institute of Arts (acc. no. 69.218), a crowned head in Museé d'art et d'Histoire, Geneva (no. 41 in Jucker and Willers, Gesichter, Griechische und römische Bildnisse aus Schweizer Besitz), and a gold aureus issued in 57 AD (no. 189, pl. 54 in Kent, Roman Coins). For a description of the portraiture types of the Emperor Nero see p. 136ff. in Kleiner, Roman Sculpture.

    Nero Claudius Caesar, born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus in 37 AD, was adopted by the Emperor Claudius; his succession insured by the Emperor's marriage to his mother, Agrippina the Younger. The last Emperor of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty, Nero's rise to power at a young age was facilitated by his mother through the manipulation and murder of his rivals. A lover of the arts, Nero's infamous caricature is of playing the fiddle during the great fire of 64 AD. His enemies prevailed through simultaneous revolts and Nero committed suicide in 68 AD at the age of 32.

    Provenance

    with Mathias Komor, New York, 1974.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A U.S. PRIVATE COLLECTOR