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Marble portrait bust of Perikles

Marble portrait bust of Perikles


Height: 58.500 cm

Townley Collection

GR 1805.7-3.91 (Sculpture 549)

    Marble portrait bust of Perikles

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    Marble portrait bust of Perikles

    Roman, 2nd century AD
    Said to be from Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, Lazio, Italy

    The Athenian politician

    Perikles (died 429 BC) led the democracy of Athens at the height of the city's power and influence. He gathered around him a circle of poets, architects and artists, whose works include a programme of renewal of the principal religious and civic buildings of Athens. The crowning glory was the Parthenon, erected on the Acropolis between 447 and 432 BC. Perikles was famous for the power of his oratory (public speaking) that enabled him to rule Athens almost without opposition.

    This is a Roman copy of an original portrait which was perhaps created in Perikles' own day, or shortly after his death. However, it probably bears little physical resemblance to Perikles' actual appearance, showing an ideal type of the mature soldier citizen, wearing a helmet pushed back on his head.

    The portrait is shaped as a 'terminal bust' for mounting on a square shaft of stone. It is said to come from the Roman emperor Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, near Rome. It was later part of the collection of Charles Townley.

    G.M.A. Richter, The portraits of the Greeks (London, Phaidon, 1965)