Equestrian statue of Domitian, changed to that of Nerva
Bronze. Inv. No. 155743.Baiae, Archaeological Museum of Phlegraean Fields

Equestrian statue of Domitian, changed to that of Nerva.

Inv. No. 155743.

Baiae, Archaeological Museum of Phlegraean Fields
(Baia, Museo Archeologico dei Campi Flegrei).

The remains of a bronze equestrian statue of late first-century date were discovered in the early 1970s near the shrine of the Augustales in the Forum at Misenum. Although originally commissioned to commemorate Domitian and still possessing the back of his head, the front of the head of the statue was replaced after Domitian’s death with a bronze mask with Nerva’s features. The portrait of Nerva appears to have been based on the same prototype as those preserved in marble and depicts him with sloping brow, hooked nose, small chin, furrowed forehead, and facial creases above the nose and around the mouth. A full coiffure with curly locks carefully arranged across the forehead and hair long on the nape of the neck displays its indebtedness to Augustan and Julio-Claudian models.

The Domitianic breastplate, decorated with sea creatures, vegetal motifs, an aegis, and the infant Hercules strangling serpents, was not altered under Nerva. Scholars have posited that these various motifs make general reference to Domitian’s dominance over land and sea and refer specifically to Domitian’s planned offensive against Parthia. In its original form, the statue was probably erected to commemorate the opening of the Via Domitiana that ran through Misenum.

The figure of the rider, although found in pieces, is fully preserved, as is the head of the horse and its forelegs and hind hoof. The group may be distinguished from all other surviving examples of its type by the rearing action of the galloping horse held in check by the emperor who leans backward as he balances the animal’s forward motion. Although the horse’s forelegs were both raised above the ground, it has thus far been conjectured that the emperor was not in the act of trampling a barbarian. Rather, it has been suggested that such a barbarian or the figure of a river god may have ornamented a strut, now missing, beneath the belly of the horse.

(cc) 2008. Photo: Erin Taylor (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
© 1992. Description: Diana E. E. Kleiner. Roman sculpture. Yale University Press New Haven & London, 1992. P. 201.
Keywords: γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό roman romana romano romani römisch römische römisches römischen römischer romain romaine romains romaines αυτοκρατορικό imperial imperiale kaiserliches impérial ρωμαίος αυτοκράτορας δομιτιανός imperator domitianus emperor domitian imperatore domiziano kaiser empereur domitien μάρκος κοκκήιος νέρβας marcus cocceius nerva marco cocceio χάλκινο bronze bronzo bronzeo bronzen ἄγαλμα άγαλμα statua statuae statue statues statui statuen statuons απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt of a man male maschile uomo männliches mann masculin un homme porträtstatue antonine dynasty adoptive emperors dinastia degli antonini imperatori adottivi d’adozione antoninische dynastie adoptivkaiser antonins gens flavia flavii the flavian flavier famille flaviens equestrian horse horseman rider equestre cavaliere reiterstatue reiter équestre cavalier footwear footgear calzatura männerschuhe chaussures pour hommes ανδρικά παπούτσια armour armor armatura rüstung armure πανοπλία military cloak mantello militare militärischer mantel manteau militaire στρατιωτικό μανδύα horses cavallo cavalli pferd pferde cheval chevaux equus equi ίππος άλογα paludamentum calceo calcei patricii mullei calceus patricius mulleus from da aus de misenum reworked rielaborata umarbeitung remaniement inv no 155743