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Bronze portrait bust of a young boy

Period:
Early Imperial, Julio-Claudian
Date:
ca. A.D. 50–68
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Bronze, silver
Dimensions:
H. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
Classification:
Bronzes
Credit Line:
Funds from various donors, 1966
Accession Number:
66.11.5
  • Description

    This life-size portrait bust of a young boy, originally affixed to a herm of wood or stone, was made by a gifted sculptor who endowed it with great presence. His large soulful eyes are inlaid with silver, and his hair is arranged in thick layers of curls that even cover the backs of his ears. The boy's identity is unknown since no inscription is preserved, but the high quality of the sculpture has often led to the suggestion that he represents the emperor Nero as a child. Since Nero was already 13 years old in A.D. 50, when he was adopted by his great uncle and stepfather, the emperor Claudius, it seems unlikely that he is in fact the person portrayed here. Nevertheless, the style of the bust is very much in keeping with late Julio-Claudian portraiture.

  • References

    von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1961. Ancient Art from New York Private Collections: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, December, 17, 1959-February 28, 1960. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 160, p. 42, pls. 39, 60-61.

    Mattusch, Carol. 1996. The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections Cambridge, Mass: Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard Art Museums, no. 46, pp. 318-21.

    Pollini, John. 2002. Gallo-Roman Bronzes and the Process of Romanization: The Cobanus Hoard. Leiden: Brill, p. 2 n 8; 17 n15.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 414, pp. 359, 486-87.

  • See also
    What
    Where
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
255215:2

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