- Museum number
- Object: Statuette of Nero
Copper alloy statuette of Nero in the guise of Alexander. Silver and copper-plating and deliberately patinated black bronze detail. The figure, which is hollow cast, stands with the weight on the right leg whilst the left foot is raised and may have originally rested on a globe or helmet (now missing). The right hand originally held a spear or sceptre (now missing) and the left arm is also missing. The figure wears imperial dress of decorated boots, a short tunic and a cuirass which is richly adorned with inlaid silver and niello patterns. The face is full and plump and the hair upstanding above the brow; the lips are slightly parted and the eyes, originally inlaid with colours (now missing) gaze upwards.
- Production date
Height: 62 centimetres
Width: 28 centimetres
Depth: 25 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Bronze statuette of Nero
Roman Britain, 1st century AD
Said to be from Barking Hall, Suffolk, but probably from Baylham Mill, near Ipswich
Though idealized, the facial features on this statuette do resemble those of Nero, the fifth Roman emperor (AD 54-68). This we know from his likeness on coins and official portraiture. The iconography is appropriate for an image of an emperor: the figure's upward gaze is reminiscent of traditional representations of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian emperor (reigned 336-323 BC). Alexander was seen as the paradigm of a great leader, even in the late-Roman period.
The piece is of very high quality, with lavish use of silver- and copper-plating and deliberately patinated black bronze.
The high quality of workmanship, the use of inlay, the patterning of the cuirass, and the rather soft figure-style have all suggested that it was made in Gaul and imported into Britain, presumably in antiquity. Neither its original context nor the circumstances of its discovery can be establised with any certainly (CSIR I, 8).
- On display (G49/dc14)
- Exhibition history
2016 11 Mar- 25 Sep, Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Celts.
2015-2016 24 Sep-31 Jan, London, BM, G30, 'Celts: Art and Identity'
2009 16 Jul-2010 16 Jan, Italy, Museo Civico Archeologico di Anzio, Anzio e Nerone
1996 30 Mar-13 Nov, Italy, Rimini, Sala dell’Arengo, Dalla Terra Alle Genti
- The left arm is lost; also missing are the object once supporting the left foot and the spear (or sceptre) held in the right hand (CSIR I, 8).
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number