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Marble portrait head from a statue of a Julio-Claudian prince

 

Height: 37.000 cm

GR 1886.11-13.1 (Sculpture 1882)

Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

    Marble portrait head from a statue of a Julio-Claudian prince

    From Kyrenia, Cyprus
    Perhaps made in Cyprus, about AD 20-40

    A rare sculpture carved in Cyprus of imported marble.

    The marble of this piece has a slightly greyish tinge. It resembles, and may be, Proconnesian marble from the sea of Marmara. The back of the head was never finished and is now partly split away and partly hewn out, though the neck is worked to fit a complete statue. The flat planes of the carving suggest that it was made by a sculptor familiar with the carving of limestone. Thus it was possibly carved in Cyprus alongside other Roman sculptures of imported marble.

    The portrait has the characteristics of the younger Drusus (15 BC - AD 23), son of Emperor Tiberius, as shown on his coins. Note in particular the slightly curving nose, the arching eyebrows and the hair that falls down low over the forehead. Portraiture played a vital role in establishing the public identity of the first imperial family of Rome. This must have been important even in a provincial backwater like Cyprus, since the island was exploited for its natural resources, notably grain and copper.

    S. Walker, Greek and Roman portraits (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

    A.H Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in -2, vol. 3 (London, British Museum, 1904)

    W.A. Daszewski, 'Marble sculptures in Nea Paphos: Cypriot or imported' in Cypriote stone sculpture: Proc (Brussels-Liège, A.G. Leventis Foundation, 1994), pp. 153-60

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    On display: Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

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