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Marble Sculpture

Hadrian Roman Emperor

Hadrian Roman Emperor

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Hadrian Roman Emperor, AD 117-118, a marble bust.

From Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, Lazio, Italy

This portrait bust was found at the Villa Adriana, the Roman emperor Hadrian’s magnificent country residence near Tivoli, outside Rome.

In ancient Rome, the dedication of public statues was governed by rules concerning location, material and iconography. This was even more important when it concerned imperial images. Official portraits were an extremely important way for Roman emperors to reach out to their subjects and their public image was defined by them.

There are hundreds of surviving imperial statues, which show us that there were only three ways in which the emperor could officially be represented: in the battle dress of a general; in a toga, the Roman state civilian costume; or nude, likened to a god. These formats powerfully and effectively evoked the emperor’s role as commander-in-chief, magistrate or priest, and finally as the ultimate embodiment of divine providence.

We know from ancient literary sources that Hadrian was particularly keen to project a strong military image and in this bust we see Hadrian presented as the commander-in-chief.

The original is now housed in the British museum.


90H x 70W x 24D cm.

Base diam. 23cm.

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