H. 31 cm. Inv. No. 618.Rome, Palatine MuseumPhoto by Sergey Sosnovskiy
H. 31 cm.
Rome, Palatine Museum
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.
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—