- Museum number
Copper alloy head of the emperor Nero or Claudius, from a life-size statue. The face is heart-shaped, with a strong chin and nose, large, slightly slanting eyes and prominent low-set ears. The hair is combed forward in a thick strands from a flattish crown; it forms a heavy fringe which divides just over the right eye (CSIR I, 8).
- Production date
Height: 315 millimetres
Width: 245 millimetres
Depth: 250 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Bronze head of the Emperor Claudius or Nero
Roman Britain, 1st century AD
Found at the River Alde at Rendham, near Saxmundham, Suffolk
This head, found in 1907, formed part of a life-size bronze statue of the Roman emperor Claudius (reigned AD 41-54) or Nero (AD54-68). The conquest of Britain provided a military triumph for Claudius. He had no existing reputation as a leader, but was perceived as a retiring, scholarly person. Life-size and larger imperial statues were placed in important public and official spaces, and it is conceivable that the statue might originally have occupied such a space in the colonia (settlement) at Colchester.
It has been suggested that the removal of the head, and presumably the destruction of the body of the statue, might have taken place during the rebellion of the British tribal leader Boudica (in AD 61). This can be no more than a theory; there is no certain evidence even linking the statue with Colchester.
- On display (G30)
- Exhibition history
2019 5 Apr-27 Oct, Rome, Museo dell'Ara Pacis, 'Claudio Imperatore'
2018-2019 1 Dec-4 Mar, France, Musee des Beaux Arts de Lyon, Claude Empereur
2016-17, 13 Oct-7 May, BM, G69a, Defacing the past: desecration and damnation in imperial Rome
2013 14 Sep - 2014 24 Feb, Norwich, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia
1996 30 Mar-13 Nov, Italy, Rimini, Sala dell’Arengo, Dalla Terra Alle Genti
1963 May-Aug, Paris, Musee du Louvre, L'Art dans les Provinces Romaines d'Occident
1961 26 Jun-22 Jul, London, Goldsmiths Hall, 50th Anniversary of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
2021 May 27-Oct 24, London, BM SEG, Nero
- Well-preserved but with signs of a heavy blow to the back of the skull. The head has been broken from the original statue in a jagged line at the neck. Small holes on the crown and on the left side of the neck. Eyes (originally of enamel paste, inlaid) are now lost (CSIR I, 8).
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Deposited on loan to the museum in 1950, by Mrs Hollond.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number