Head of emperor Claudius or Nero
Bronze.
1st century.
Height: 31.5 cm.
London, The British MuseumInv. No. 1965,1201.1.

Head of emperor Claudius or Nero.

Bronze.
1st century.
Height: 31.5 cm.
Inv. No. 1965,1201.1.

London, The British Museum

Origin:
Found at the River Alde at Rendham, near Saxmundham, Suffolk, 1907. Deposited on loan to the museum in 1950, by Mrs Hollond. Purchased from the Mrs. D. Hollond collection at the Sotheby’s auction with the contribution of the Art Fund (NACF) in 1965.
Description:
Copper alloy head of the emperor Nero or Claudius, from a life-size statue. The face is heart-shaped, with a strong chin and nose, large, slightly slanting eyes and prominent low-set ears. The hair is combed forward in a thick strands from a flattish crown; it forms a heavy fringe which divides just over the right eye (CSIR I, 8).

Condition: Well-preserved but with signs of a heavy blow to the back of the skull. The head has been broken from the original statue in a jagged line at the neck. Small holes on the crown and on the left side of the neck. Eyes (originally of enamel paste, inlaid) are now lost (CSIR I, 8).

This head, found in 1907, formed part of a life-size bronze statue of the Roman emperor Claudius (reigned AD 41—54) or Nero (AD 54—68). The conquest of Britain provided a military triumph for Claudius. He had no existing reputation as a leader, but was perceived as a retiring, scholarly person. Life-size and larger imperial statues were placed in important public and official spaces, and it is conceivable that the statue might originally have occupied such a space in the colonia (settlement) at Colchester.

It has been suggested that the removal of the head, and presumably the destruction of the body of the statue, might have taken place during the rebellion of the British tribal leader Boudica (in AD 61). This can be no more than a theory; there is no certain evidence even linking the statue with Colchester.

This head, found in 1907, formed part of a life-size bronze statue of the Roman emperor Claudius (reigned AD 41—54). The conquest of Britain provided a military triumph for Claudius. He had no existing reputation as a leader, but was perceived as a retiring, scholarly person. Life-size and larger imperial statues were placed in important public and official spaces, and it is conceivable that the statue might originally have occupied such a space in the colonia (settlement) at Colchester.

It has been suggested that the removal of the head, and presumably the destruction of the body of the statue, might have taken place during the rebellion of the British tribal leader Boudica (in AD 61). This can be no more than a theory; there is no certain evidence even linking the statue with Colchester.

Literature:
Huskinson J., Roman Sculpture from Eastern England, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994 (CSIR I, 8), no. 23.
Lahusen G., Formigli E., Römische Bildnisse aus Bronze. Kunst und Technik, Munich, Hirmer, 2001, no. 89.
Hobbs R., Jackson R., Roman Britain Life at the Edge of Empire, London, The British Museum Press, 2010, p. 35, fig. 23.
Potter T. W., Roman Britain, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997), p. 10, plate 3.
Credits:
(cc) 2019 г. Photo, text: The British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
Keywords: απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt of a man male maschile uomo männliches mann masculin un homme portraitkopf roman romana römisches romain αυτοκρατορικό imperial imperiale kaiserliches impérial ιουλιο-κλαυδιανή δυναστεία iulio-claudia iulii-claudii julii-claudii the julio-claudian dynasty dinastia giulio-claudia julisch-claudische dynastie famille julio-claudienne julio-claudiens ρωμαίος αυτοκράτορας κλαύδιος imperator claudius roman emperor claudius i imperatore romano claudio römischer kaiser claudius empereur romain claude ρωμαίος αυτοκράτορας νέρων νέρωνας imperator nero roman emperor nero imperatore romano nerone römischer kaiser nero empereur romain néron γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό roman romana romano romani römisch römische römisches römischen römischer romain romaine romains romaines χάλκινο bronze bronzo bronzeo bronzen κεφάλι κεφαλή head testa kopf tête with protruding ears orecchie sporgenti a orecchie alla sventola hervorstehende ohren oreilles décollées inv no 1965,1201.1
History of Ancient Rome