• Antiquities  auction at Christies

    Sale 2232

    Antiquities

    11 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 151

    A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPEROR NERO

    CIRCA 59-64 A.D.

    Price Realised  

    A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPEROR NERO
    CIRCA 59-64 A.D.
    Depicted with a full, fleshy face, his wavy hair brushed forward, the individual strands delineated, with a part above the right eye, the long sideburns merging with the incised light beard, his unarticulated eyes set beneath prominent brows, his lips pursed, the chin bulbous, with a thick neck, traces of gilding in the hair, perhaps from a wreath
    5¾ in. (14.6 cm.) high


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    The Emperor Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus) was born December 15th, 37 A.D. to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, first cousin of the Emperor Claudius, and Agrippina Minor, sister of the Emperor Caligula. Nero was later adopted by his uncle, the Emperor Claudius, and succeeded him in 54 A.D. He was the fifth and final ruler of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.

    The light beard and part above the right eye suggest that this portrait was commissioned late in Nero's life. For more on Nero's portrait types see p. 135-139 in Kleiner, Roman Sculpture.

    Provenance

    Austrian Private Collection, 1970s.