• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2007

    Antiquities

    4 June 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 237

    A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT OF A GIRL

    AUGUSTAN, CIRCA LATE 1ST CENTURY B.C.

    Price Realised  

    A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT OF A GIRL
    AUGUSTAN, CIRCA LATE 1ST CENTURY B.C.
    Perhaps a member of the Julio-Claudian family, her wavy hair loosely pulled back, with a wide nodus above the forehead that runs back over the crown of the head in a braid and coils into a bun, thin wispy locks in front of each ear, her eyes unarticulated, with heavy upper lids and deeply cut inner canthi, her gently arching brows lightly incised, the lips of her small mouth pressed together, the vermillion line delineated
    7 in. (17.7 cm.) high


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    The coiffure worn by this girl, the so-called nodus hairstyle, was popularized by women associated with the court of Augustus, including his wife Livia and his sister Octavia. It may have been introduced when Cleopatra VII was brought to Rome by Mark Antony. The style came to be imitated by contemporary women of all classes in Roman society.

    A number of portraits survive from the late 1st century B.C. that depict young girls with the hair arranged in this fashion, including an example at Yale, no. 121 in Kleiner and Matheson, I Claudia, Women in Ancient Rome. Behen cites a parallel for the Yale portrait (p. 167 in Kleiner and Matheson, op. cit.) on a fragment from the Ara Pacis in the Louvre (accession no. MA 1088), dated firmly 13-9 B.C., "The identity of the girl on the Ara Pacis is unknown, but she has been identified from the rest of the cast of likely suspects as Agrippina the Elder, daughter of Julia the Elder and Marcus Agrippa; she perhaps accompanies Julius Antonius (son of Fulvia and Antony) and is flanked by Octavia and Julia the Elder ... She was born ca. 14 BC, making her five by the time of the dedication in 9. Her sister Julia the Younger was born ca. 19 BC, and is thus also a possible candidate...If an imperial identification is sought for the Yale girl, either of Julia and Agrippa's daughters seems a good possibility; as sisters of Gaius and Lucius, one might imagine their dynastic significance would lead to the production of portraits. Yet much as the empress Livia and her contemporaries in the imperial circle provided models for adult women in terms of both appearance and behavior, imperial children provided models for the children of Rome. But it is only in the Augustan period, with the inclusion of children in state monuments for the first time, that such emulation becomes possible."

    Provenance

    with Ariadne Galleries, New York, 1989.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF AMBASSADOR EDWARD ELLIOT ELSON