Roman art, julio-claudian dynasty, neronian period, 54-59 A.D.
The youthful features framed by heavy fringed hair, falling in curls at the nape of the neck, the crown of the head with three central plaits, from which is suspended a jewelled pendant, the child's softly carved slightly asymmetric features depicted with large rimmed eyes and full lips
Geyer notes a portrait head of the young Nero in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek as a parallel to the above lot, reproduced in F. Johansen, Catalogue Roman Portraits , vol. I, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 1994, p.158, no.67, and also makes comparisons with another head of Nero in Rome (Museo Nazionale Romano, Museo delle Terme / Thermenmuseum, Inv.Nr. 618). Geyer suggests that the hair was re-worked in the 4th-5th Century A.D. to add a jewelled pendant which may have served as a protective amulet. Such re-carving of earlier portrait heads was a common economical practice.
In an article about the re-cutting of portrait heads John Pollini comments that it was a relatively common practice in Antiquity, particularly in the case of disgraced Roman emperors and their families who, often as part of damnatio memoriae, had their sculptures defaced or re-cut; see J. Pollini, 'Recutting Roman Portraits: Problems in Interpretation and the New Technology in Finding Possible Solutions', in Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, vol. 55, 2010, p.24-44. Nero suffered damnatio memoriae by Senate decree after his death in 68 A.D.
Private collection, Switzerland, prior to 1981
Angelika Geyer, Ein wiederverwendetes Knabenportrait, in: MededRom (Mededelingen van het Nederlands Instituut te Rome=Papers of the Dutch Institute in Rome) 23, 1981, 101-106, 191-2 pl. 34-35
J. Pollini, 'Recutting Roman Portraits: Problems in Interpretation and the New Technology in Finding Possible Solutions', in Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, vol. 55, 2010, p. 24-44
4 500 €