Portrait of a Young Man

2009by4639 jpg l

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Acquired in 1910 (the spelunker thinks)

artist
Unknown
attributions_note
bibliography
R. Syme, 'The Roman Revolution', (Oxford, 1939); P. Zaqnker, 'The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus', trans. A. Shapiro (Ann Arbor, 1988); S. Walker, 'Greek and Roman Portraits' (London, 1995); D. Earl, 'The Age of Augustus' (London, Elek/Toronto, Ryerson, 1988); C. Wells, 'The Roman Empire', 2nd edn. (London, 1992). For Tiberius see: B. Levick, 'Tiberius the Politician' (London, 1976); R. Seager, 'Tiberius' (London, 1972). For the Augustan image see 'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 97
collection_code
SCP
credit
Salting Bequest
date_end
0037-12-31
date_start
date_text
ca. 0004-0037 (made)
descriptive_line
Bust, bronze, of a young man, probably Tiberius, Emperor of Rome, with the eyes inlaid in silver, Roman, probably ca. 4-37 AD
dimensions
Height: 17.5 cm
edition_number
event_text
exhibition_history
The Image of Augustus (British Museum 01/01/0001-29/04/1981)
gallery
Medieval and Renaissance, room 8
historical_context_note
Although probably a portrait of the Emperor Tiberius, this bust is a variant on the imperial image devised by Tiberius' predecessor and step-father, Augustus. Augustus, first Emperor of Rome, understood the power of images. He created a mythology for his regime, an official style and public identity, where members of his family and, above all, he himself, were depicted as ideals of power, empire, victory and austere morality. These deified portraits, heavy with religious symbolism, consciously represented the Augustan age as one of prosperity, order and 'peace gained by victories ('parta victoriis pax', Res Gestae, 13). Thus Augustus was shown alternately as a great general, a thinker and parliamentarian, or pious Roman citizen. Once Augustus was declared a god after his death in AD 14, the image was softened to suggest a benign and above all eternally youthful ruler concerned for the welfare of his subjects. But Augustus oversaw not only the creation of an official cult image for himself, but for other members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty too, in some cases, such as his grandsons, when they were young princes. Essentially portraits of his Julio-Claudian descendents are variants of the the basic Augustan image. Augustus had no son to succed him, but his daughter Julia has two sons with Augustus' friend Marcus Agrippa, whom she married in 21 BC. These two boys, Gaius and Lucius, were adopted by Augustus as his own sons. portraits of the imperial family were used to familiarise the Empire, and in particular its army, with the various candidates for succession. Gaius and Lucis were sculpted and had dedications made to them more times than any other members of the imperial family except the Emperor himself. Both of these young replicas of Augustus, however, died when they were still young. Now, Augustus' wife Livia had had a son named Tiberius Claudius Nero by an eariler marriage. Augustus appointed this stepson as his successor in AD 4, was suceeded by him in AD 14, from which time Tiberius reigned until his death in the year 37.
historical_significance
history_note
This bust almost certainly represents Tiberius, Emperor of Rome, and was probably devised to commemorate the adoption of Tiberius as Augustus' successor in AD 4. Tiberius was a forty-six year old soldier when he was adopted and yet the present bust, like all other contemporary and commemorative portraits, shows him as a boyish-looking youth with delicate features. This lack of interest in physical features sometimes made for bland royal images and junior members of the imperial family are often near indistinguishable from one another. For instance, Tiberius' nephew Germanicus is shown in much the same vein as Tiberius: a young man with wavy hair brought forward across the forehead. Tiberius, however, as we see him here, is represented with softer, less heavy face than Germanicus. External factors such as power, military prowess and political skill influenced the rendering of Roman sculptural portraiture and overrode any interest in representations of providing a realistic, photographic likeness. Drawing on Greek traditions, Roman representations of indivduals rarely reproduced the personal features of the subjects, but instead illustrated moral and qualities and achievements: life experience and personal attributes and skills were expressed as physical features. In short, what we see in this bust is the public image of Tiberius as an energetic, forever-young leader. It is also a family portrait of the Julio-Claudians, and in that sense of Augustus too, for it is an unashamed image of a sucessor to the Augustan dynasty and the Augustan image. As Colin Wells, 'The Roman Empire', 2nd edn. (London, 1992), 93, noted: 'To find another European ruler who deliberately set his stamp upon the age as did Augustus, we must wait for Louis XIV, who deliberately modelled himself on Augustus'.
id
85950
label
last_checked
2014-08-30T01:12:03.000Z
last_processed
2014-08-30T01:12:03.000Z
latitude
42.502998
location
Medieval and Renaissance, room 8, case 2
longitude
12.57341
marks
materials
Silver, bronze
materials_techniques
Bronze, with the eyes inlaid with silver
museum_number
A.584-1910
museum_number_token
a5841910
object_number
O111180
object_type
Bust
on_display
1
original_currency
original_price
physical_description
Portrait bust of a young man looking slightly to his left, his hair dressed forward. Broken at the neck.
place
Italy
primary_image_id
2009BY4639
production_note
Compare with portrait of youthful Tiberius in British Museum
production_type
public_access_description
This is probably a portrait of Emperor Tiberius. However, it is a variant on the imperial image devised for his predecessor, Augustus, who had understood the propaganda power of images. By evoking the image of Augustus in their own portraits, subsequent emperors laid claim to the moral and political values of his rule. This bust almost certainly represents Tiberius, Emperor of Rome, and was probably devised to commemorate the adoption of Tiberius as Augustus' successor in AD 4. Tiberius was a forty-six year old soldier when he was adopted and yet the present bust, like all other contemporary and commemorative portraits, shows him as a boyish-looking youth with delicate features. This lack of interest in physical features sometimes made for bland royal images and junior members of the imperial family are often near indistinguishable from one another. For instance, Tiberius' nephew Germanicus is shown in much the same vein as Tiberius: a young man with wavy hair brought forward across the forehead. Tiberius, however, as we see him here, is represented with softer, less heavy face than Germanicus.
related_museum_numbers
rights
3
shape
site_code
VA
slug
portrait-of-a-young-man-bust-unknown
sys_updated
2013-08-17T00:00:00.000Z
techniques
inlay (process), casting
title
Portrait of a Young Man
updated
vanda_exhibition_history
year_end
37
year_start
-1