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REIGN 117-138 A.D.

REIGN 117-138 A.D.
82 in. (208.2 cm.) high
Villa Montalto-Negroni-Massimi, Rome.
with Giuseppe Staderini, Rome, 1784.
with Thomas Jenkins, Rome, 1789.
John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley (1767-1833), Cobham Hall, Kent, acquired from the above, 1790; thence by descent to his son, Edward Bligh, 5th Earl of Darnley (1795-1835), Cobham Hall, Kent; thence by descent to his son, John Bligh, 6th Earl of Darnley (1827-1896), Cobham Hall, Kent; thence by descent to his son, Edward Bligh, 7th Earl of Darnley (1851-1900), Cobham Hall, Kent; thence by descent to his brother, Ivo Francis Walter Bligh, 8th Earl of Darnley (1859-1927), Cobham Hall, Kent; thence by descent to the Trustees of the 8th Earl of Darnley.
Catalogue of the Valuable Contents: Pictures, Statuary, Furniture & Household Furnishings, Etc. of Cobham Hall Near Rochester, Kent, Which Will be Sold by Auction on the Premises by Order of the Trustees of the 8th Earl of Darnley; Sotheby's, London, 22-23 July 1957, lot 383.
with J. Wilson Raker, New Orleans.
Iberia Bank, New Iberia, Louisiana, acquired from the above, 1961.
Antiquities, Christie's, New York, 9 December 2008, lot 164.
Undated guidebook to Cobham Hall and the Earls of Darnley, dated circa 1940s-1950s.
C.C. Vermeule, "Notes on a New Edition of Michaelis: Ancient Marbles in Great Britain," AJA 59, no. 2, 1955, p. 133, pl. 42, fig. 9.
M. Wegner, Hadrian, Plotina, Marciana, Matidia, Sabina, Berlin, 1956, pp. 13, 95.
C.C. Vermeule, Greek and Roman Sculpture in America, Malibu, 1981, p. 310, no. 266.
M. Wegner, "Verzeichnis der Bildnisse von Hadrian und Sabina," Boreas 7, 1984, p. 126.
K. Fittschen and P. Zanker, Katalog der römischen Porträts in den Capitolinischen Museen und den anderen kommunalen Sammlungen der Stadt Rom, Band 1, Mainz am Rhein, 1985, pp. 49-51, kat. 49, no. 7.
"Ripley's Believe it or Not," San Antonio Express-News, 27 July 2001, p. 79.
M. Tutwiler, "Hadrian's waltz out of New Iberia," The Independent Weekly, 6 May 2008.
H. Leleux-Thubron, "Hadrian on the way out," The Daily Iberian, 4 May 2008, pp. A1, A10.
H. Leleux-Thubron, "Hadrian could fetch $1 million," The Daily Iberian, 11 May 2008, pp. A1, A10.
J. Zeringue, "Editorial: Statue special to city," The Daily Iberian, 6 July 2008.
Minerva 19, no. 6, November/December 2008, n.p. (advertisement).
"The Autumn 2008 Antiquities Sales," Minerva 20, no. 2, March/April 2009, pp. 39-41, fig. 11.
I. Bignamini and C. Hornsby, Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth-Century Rome, vol. 2, New Haven, 2010, pp. 171-172.
M. Merrony, ed., Mougins Museum of Classical Art, Mougins, 2011, pp. 91, 94, fig. 33.
"Birth of a Museum," Minerva 22, no. 2, March/April 2011, p. 38, fig. 4.
"Pieces of the Classical Past," Minerva 22, no. 3, May/June 2011, p. 51, fig. 2.
"Mougins, un Musee d'Art Classique Pas Comme les Autres," Egypte Ancienne, no. 8, July 2011, p. 67.
M. Merrony, ed., Muse´e d'Art Classique de Mougins: La Collection Famille Levett, Mougins, 2012, p. 57.
Ancient Warfare 6, no. 5, 2013, p. 8 (advertisement).
La Marche de l'Histoire, no. 4, February 2013, p. 18.
S.S. Jervis and D. Dodd, Roman Splendour, English Arcadia: The Pope's Cabinet at Stourhead, London, 2015, p. viii.
C. Wrathall, "Collectors & Collections," Christie's Magazine, January/February 2016, pp. 53, 56.
M.C. Bishop, "Along the wall with Hadrian's cavalry," Minerva 28, no. 3, May/June 2017, pp. 8-9, fig. 1.
C. Vout, Classical Art: A Life History from Antiquity to the Present, Princeton, 2018, pp. 236-237, fig. 9.10.
Arachne Online Database no. 37276.
Kent, Cobham Hall, open to public visits circa 1890s-1950s.
New Iberia, Louisiana, Iberia Bank, 1961-2008.
Mougins Museum of Classical Art, 2011-2019 (no. MMoCA.214).
Special notice
Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

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Lot Essay

The splendid over life-sized statue presented here depicts the Emperor standing in a chiastic pose with his weight on the right leg, the left bent at the knee and drawn back, the left arm lowered, and the right arm raised. He wears a voluminous mantle around the lower part of his body and over the left arm, exposing his well-modelled muscular torso. The head turns slightly to his right and his characteristic wavy hair is combed forward and ending in corkscrew curls along his forehead. He has a closely-cropped beard and mustache, and his forehead has vertical creases at the bridge of the nose. He has unarticulated eyes beneath gently-arching brows. The preserved left ear has a diagonal crease across the earlobe, as seen on numerous likenesses of this Emperor, likely indicating that Hadrian suffered from coronary artery disease. The chiastic stance and the body modeling recall the work of the 5th century B.C. Greek sculptor Polykleitos. The partial nudity was intended to give the statue a heroizing aura. The type was employed by the Romans for images of various gods and to honor members of the Imperial family, beginning in the Julio-Claudian period. For related examples from the Julio-Claudian period see the draped figure formerly restored with the head of a bearded god, no. 21 in E. Angelicoussis, The Holkham Collection of Classical Sculptures, and two statues in New York, nos. 416 and 417 in C. Picon, et al., Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The statue was previously in the collection housed in the Villa Peretti Montalto, the largest Renaissance villa ever to have stood within Rome’s walls. The villa was first owned by Pope Sixtus V (1521-1590) and then inherited by his nephew Alessandro Peretti, later known as Cardinal Montalto. When the main branch of the Montalto Peretti family expired, the villa passed to Paolo Peretti Savelli (1622-1685). In 1696 it was sold to Cardinal Giovanni Franceso Negroni. It remained with the Negroni family until it was acquired by Giuseppe Staderini in 1785. Staderini began selling some of the ancient sculptures to Popes Pius VI Braschi and Pius VII Chiaramonti to enrich the Vatican collections. The rest of the collection was acquired by the famous English art dealer and collector Thomas Jenkins in 1789. Staderini later sold the villa to Camilo Massimo. Each subsequent owner of the villa changed its name, hence the modern complex appellation, Villa Peretti Monalto-Negroni-Massimo. The villa was finally destroyed in the 19th century for the construction of Stazione Termini.
It is not recorded when or where the statue of Hadrian was discovered, nor is it known which owner of the villa acquired it. The earliest that the statue can be documented as being in the villa is from the correspondence preserved in the British Museum between Jenkins and the collector Charles Townley from 20 January 1787 where Jenkins presented of list of “Antiquities from the Villa Negroni” which included “A statue of Adrian.” Townley would acquire a number of the villa’s sculptures, which are now in the collection of the British Museum, but not the Hadrian. That prize went to John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley, for his home Cobham Hall in Kent, England. Further correspondence from Jenkins to Townley from 29 May 1790 records that “Lord Darnley will beg your advice for facilitating the getting his marbles thro’ the Custom House as his Lordship means to send them by water to Gravesend, suppose they may be examined by taking off one cover of the cases only. The safety of things depend much on a proper person attending to them, your people have such experience they must understand it…” (For both letters, see Bignamini and Hornsby, op. cit., pp. 171-172). According to Lord Darnley’s bank book, Jenkins was paid on 26 July 1790. The statue would be placed on a high pedestal to the right of the staircase in the Great Hall at Cobham Hall, facing a bust of Hadrian on a column, also from the villa.
The majority of the collections of ancient art in Great Britain were well-documented by modern art historians, most notably by the German scholar Adolf Michaelis, who travelled extensively throughout the country, and published Ancient Marbles in Great Britain in 1882. Somehow Cobham Hall escaped his notice. It was not until 1955 that the statue of Hadrian became known to scholars, thanks to an article by Cornelius Vermeule, Curator of Classical Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, entitled “Notes on a New Edition of Michaelis: Ancient Marbles in Great Britain.” Just two years later the collection was dispersed at auction, where it was acquired by the New Orleans dealer J. Wilson Raker, who subsequently sold the statue to Iberia Bank of New Iberia, Louisiana. Hadrian's Iberian ancestry was no doubt the inspiration for the bank's acquisition of the statue. It was displayed on a pedestal outside the St. Peter branch of the bank in New Iberia until 1980, when it was covered by a domed glass enclosure. When the bank moved its headquarters, the statue was sold at auction at Christie’s New York in 2008.
The future Emperor Hadrian, Publius Aelius Hadrianus, was born in Rome on the 24th of January in 76 A.D. His father Aelius Hadrianus Afer was a Roman Senator and a native of the Roman settlement of Italica in Spain, while his mother, Domitia Paulina, was from Gades (modern Cadiz). At the age of nine, Hadrian lost his father and guardians were appointed. One was another native of Italica, the general Marcus Ulpius Traianus, who was soon to become the Emperor Trajan. At the age of eighteen the young Hadrian began his distinguished career of public, and later, military service. In 117, on his deathbed, Trajan officially adopted Hadrian as his son and heir.
Much of the modern view of Hadrian's reign (117-138) has been corrupted by the immensely popular and well-researched historical novel, Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar (1951). The recent volume by Thorsten Opper, Hadrian, Empire and Conflict, (2008) which accompanied the exhibition at the British Museum, has rectified many of the distortions. Contrary to Yourcenar, Hadrian was not a philhellenic pacifist, but rather a political pragmatist. At the moment of his succession, the Empire was in turmoil. Trajan's last Parthian campaign ended poorly, so Hadrian had no choice but to reverse course on Rome's expansion, renouncing recently acquired territories to solidify the Empire's borders.
He traveled extensively to achieve this goal. His legions built impressive walls across the entire length of Northern Britain (today known as Hadrian's wall), another in Algeria, and he vanquished the Jewish revolt led by Simon Bar Kokhba. For political and dynastic considerations, Hadrian initiated an unparalleled building program throughout the Empire. In Rome, he commissioned the celebrated Pantheon in the Campus Martius, the Temple of Venus and Rome in the Forum, another temple to the deified Trajan, and his own Mausoleum (now Castel Sant'Angelo). In Greece, he created a Panhellenic League and completed the Temple of Zeus in Athens to secure the loyalty of the local aristocracy. In 130, his companion Antinous drowned in the Nile, which inspired the grieving Emperor to encourage the locals to venerate the deceased as Osiris. Hadrian founded the city of Antinoopolis in his memory and the Antinous cult spread throughout the Empire. A large Antineion flanked the entrance of Hadrian's enormous villa at Tivoli, and was likely the source for many of the Egyptian and Egyptianizing statues recovered there.

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