Height 52 cm. Inv. No. 3167.Copenhagen, New Carlsberg GlyptotekPhoto by Sergey Sosnovskiy
Height 52 cm.
Copenhagen, New Carlsberg Glyptotek
(København, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek).
Emperor Vitellius, born in 15 A. D., was emperor of Rome from January until December during the single year 69 A. D. On the basis of its resemblance to numismatic portraits, the present identification of the head seems most feasible. This shows a fleshy face, with bags under the eyes, closely-cropped military hairstyle, multi-double chins and a thick neck. A marble head in Tunis’ Bardo Museum shows a younger Vitellius. Tacitus (III 84f) recounts that before he was murdered, Vitellius saw his own statues being toppled, indicating that an iconoclasm, an ostentatious destruction of the emperor’s image, occurred shortly before, and certainly also after, Vitellius’ death. Aside from the brief period of his reign, this could explain the scarcity of extant portraits of this emperor.
Original: 69 A. D.
I. N. 3167
Head. White marble with yellowish patina and greyish calcareous sinters.
H. 0.52 m.
Nose and mouth are damaged. Scratch marks over the entire surface. The neck is formed for insertion in a statue.
Acquired in 1955. Allegedly found near Piazza Colonna in Rome.
Cat. no. 655a; V. Poulsen 1974, Cat. 1; M.-Gjødesen, MedKøb 16 (1959) 31ff; H. Jucker, Jahrb. Bern 41—
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 1995.