Portrait of Augustus on Modern Bust

Portrait of Augustus on Modern Bust

In 27 B.C., after the war against Marcus Antonius, Octavian returned full power to the Roman Senate, which then decided to honor him with the new title of Augustus: “Some senators proposed to confer upon him the name of Romulus, as being, in a manner, a second founder of the city, but the motion of Munatius Plancus to call him Augustus prevailed.” (Suet. Aug. 7) For the occasion a new official portrait of the Emperor was created, defined as "Prima Porta" type by the famous loricata statue found near Prima Porta, Rome. The detailed representation of Augustus features is abandoned for a more idealized rendering of the subject. This type of portrait is inspired by the models of the Hellenistic dynasts, who exalt the greatness of the character through an ideal and perfect physiognomy. The power of Augustus is suggested by a plastic and soft facial treatment, large eyes, a powerful neck and the hair, described by Suetonius as wavy, arranged in an orderly manner. The Torlonia portrait, which stood out in the portrait gallery of the Giustiniani Collection, is among the best replicas of the "Prima Porta" type, which counts about 135. The modern bust does not faithfully represent the original one, which must have had the lorica with central gorgon and mantle.

Inventory: MT 513

Material: White marble

Technique: Work sculpted through the use of: chisels (also square-tipped and toothed) rasps

Dating: Imperial age

Origin: Giustiniani Collection