Head of the emperor Nero
Greek island marble.
59—64 CE.
H. 31 cm.
Inv. No. 618.Rome, Palatine MuseumPhoto by Sergey Sosnovskiy

Head of the emperor Nero.

Greek island marble.
59—64 CE.
H. 31 cm.
Inv. No. 618.

Rome, Palatine Museum

Rome, Roman National Museum.
Origin:
Found in 1869 by R. Rosa in the eastern wing of the cryptoporticus which supports the sacred area of the Temple of Apollo. Originally in the Museo Palatino it was later kept in the Museo Nazionale Romano.
Description:

55. Portrait of Nero (Imp. Ti. Claudius Caesar Aug. Germanicus: 54—68 AD)

It was found in 1869 by R Rosa in the eastern wing of the cryptoporticus which supports the sacred area of the Temple of Apollo. Originally in the Museo Palatino (Ghirardini 1881, n. 6) it was later kept in the Museo Nazionale Romano.
Nose chipped; parts of the neck and nape missing.
Greek island marble.
Height 31; inv. 618.

The Palatine portrait is perhaps the most beautiful of Nero’s portraits. It is characterised by the large head of the Domizi, the short beard, partially incised, the fleshiness — a little soft — of the face, the locks arranged on the forehead in the Julio-Claudian fashion. But the importance of this head, besides the excellent workmanship and the certainty of the identification, is to be found in the rendering of the sentiments, the capacity of making the complex personality of Nero shine through, by means of a knowing play of light and shade, which hollow out the eyes and stress the wrinkles. Of the three known groups of Nero’s portraits, the Palatine version — which gives the name to the Thermae type — is dated to between 59 (date of the Quinquennalia) and 64 AD (date of the Decennalia). Therefore, it represents the intermediate phase between the Cagliari type — the youngest — and the Monaco type, in which the psychological degeneration of the person is by now evident. The Palatine portrait shows Nero in a moment of equilibrium, in which the emperor is still a long way from the conception of the absolute dynast of a Hellenistic type and the excesses of the last years of the reign.

Literature:
C. L. Visconti, R. Lanciani, Guida del Palatino, Rome 1873, p. 66;
B. M. Felletti Maj, Museo Nazionale Romano. I ritratti, Roma 1953, p. 73, n. 123;
Museo Nazionale Romano, ed. A. Giuliano, I. 1 (1981), p. 272, n. 168 (E. Talamo);
M. Bergmann, P. Zanker, “Damnatio Memoriae”. Umgearbeitete Nero- und Domitians Porträts. Zur Ikonographie der flavischen Kaiser und des Nerva, Jdl, 96, 1981, p. 324;
K. Fittschen, P. Zanker, Katalog der römischen Porträts in den Capitolinischen Museen und den anderen Komunalen Sammlungen der Stadt Rom, Vol. III, Kaiserinnen und Prinzessinnenbildnisse, Mainz 1983, p. 19, note 4;
M. A. Tornei, Gli scavi di Pietro Rosa per Napoleone III, in: Gli Orti Farnesiani sul Palatino, Atti del Convegno Internazionale (École Française de Rome, 28—30 November 1985), Rome 1990, p. 85.
Credits:
(сс) 2008. Photo: Sergey Sosnovskiy (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Text: museum label.
© 1997. Description: Tomei M. A. Museo Palatino. Electa, Milano, 1997, p. 80, cat. no. 55.
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 νέρων νέρωνας imperator nero emperor imperatore romano nerone römischer kaiser empereur néron γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό romani römisch römische römischen romaine romains romaines κεφάλι κεφαλή head testa kopf tête greek marble marmo greco griechischer marmor marbre grec ελληνικό μάρμαρο beard bearded barba barbuto bart bärtiger barbe barbu barbatum γενειάδα γενειοφόρος άνθρωπος island dell’isola inselmarmor d’île thermae type inv no 618