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figure

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1965,1201.1

  • Description

    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).

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1stC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • 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.

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  • Bibliography

    • CSIR I, 8 no. 23 bibliographic details
    • Lahusen & Formigli 2001 no. 89 bibliographic details
    • Hobbs & Jackson 2010 p. 35, fig. 23 bibliographic details
    • Potter 1997 p.10, pl.3 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G49/dc14

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    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

  • Condition

    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).

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1965

  • Acquisition notes

    Deposited on loan to the museum in 1950, by Mrs Hollond.

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1965,1201.1

Copper alloy head of the emperor Claudius, from a life-size statue.

3/4: Left

Copper alloy head of the emperor Claudius, from a life-size statue.

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