- Museum number
Marble bust of the emperor Trajan.
- Production date
- 108-117 (circa)
Height: 75 centimetres
- Curator's comments
One of a large number of busts issued to celebrate Trajan's decennalia. The nude portrait was intended to recall classical Greek representations of the human figure.
Gross (1940), pp. 85-86.
Cook 2013, nr. 148:
Townley's description; ‘A Bust of Trajan, the size of large life, the breast naked. it was found by Mr Gavin Hamilton in an excavation made 1776 at ……. when it was added to this collection’ (1804 Parlour Catalogue, park drawing room 19). Here as elsewhere (TY 12/3, Parlour Catalogue owned by Simon Towneley), and TY 12/5) Townley recorded the date of discovery wrongly. It was offered to him by Hamilton on 10 May 1775 with the comment ‘I think it unnecessary to ask you if you will have this precious morsel’ (TY 7/588), and it duly appeared on Hamilton’s account of 27 May at £100 (TY 8/110), the price confirmed in Townley’s records (TY 10/5-7; TY 12/1; TY 10/3 (fo. 33); 'Union Catalogue', fo. 21r). By 5 July the bust was crated without being seen by Visconti (TY 7/592). Townley may have asked where it was found, for on 7 October Hamilton wrote that he might in time reveal this to Townley but ‘for the present it must remain in suspence’ (TY 7/596). It seems that Hamilton never did reveal the exact findspot, and Townley had to be content with ‘near Rome’ (The first Townley inventory, Bust 8 and TY 12/3, park drawing room 15), and ‘the Roman Campagna’ (TY 12/5 and Notes on the dispositions of marbles in CT's house). Townley was delighted with the bust, describing it as ‘one of the best I have seen of that Emperor’ (copy of a letter dated 30 October 1775, TY 7/597/2).
This is one of the items listed in an account from Hamilton dated 27 May 1775 (TY 8/110). Also included are the ‘Egeria or sleeping nymph’ at £150 and a ‘Collossal head of Faustina the Elder’ at £60. Neither was accepted by Townley, and the joint total of £210 was deducted from Hamilton’s next account dated 11 October 1775 (TY 8/111). The ‘Egeria’ was eventually sold to the Duke of Dorset and is now at Knole.
1st half of II AD (Hinks); one of a number of portraits made to celebrate the 10th year of his reign in AD 108 (Gross); after 115 (West)
* Townley drawing 2010,5006.130, attributed to Metz, by Ian D. Jenkins.
- Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum (1808) IV.1.
- Ancient Marbles of the British Museum, III, pl. 1.
- A Guide to the Graeco-Roman Sculptures in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities (Synopsis of the Contents of the British Museum) (2 vols., London 1874 [2nd ed. 1879] and 1876), I, no. 15.
- A. H. Smith, A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, Vol. III (London 1904), 155-6, no. 1893.
- R. P. Hinks, Greek and Roman Portrait Sculpture (London 1935), 28, pl. 34.
- W. H. Gross, Bildnisse Traians (Das römische Herrscherbild, II.2, Berlin 1940), 85, 127-8, no. 30, pl. 15.
- R. West, Römische Porträt-Plastik (Munich 1941), II, 69 no. 15.
- Donald Strong, Roman Art (1976), 89, pl. 95.
- B. F. Cook, Greek and Roman Art in the British Museum (London 1976), 183 fig. 145.
- B. F. Cook, The Townley Marbles (London 1985), 20, 22 fig. 20.
- Susan Walker, Greek and Roman Portraits (London 1995), 90, fig. 63.
- On display (G70)
- Exhibition history
2008, 24 Jul-26 Aug, London, BM, 'Hadrian: Empire and Conflict'
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number