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Home > Auctions > 1st September 2020 > Roman Marble Head of a General

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LOT 0061

GBP (£) 20,000 - 30,000
EUR (€) 22,150 - 33,220
USD ($) 26,120 - 39,180

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£20,000 (EUR 22,146; USD 26,117) (+bp*)

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Roman Marble Head of a General

Early 2nd century AD

A carved marble bust of a notable general or patricius, possibly the portrait of Lucius Licinius Sura, an influential senator and close friend of Emperor Trajan, depicted with short tousled hair combed forward onto the brow in a typical military style; broad forehead with heavy ridge and deep-set eyes, aquiline nose and small pursed lips, small ears; mounted on a custom-made stand. 19.3 kg total, 46cm including stand (18"). Fine condition.

Property of a central London gentleman; previously in a private UK collection; formerly in the collection of A.G.A.L, since 1988; before that in the collection of Professor Namio Egami prior to 1975; accompanied by an archaeological report by military expert Dr Raffaele D'Amato and a scholarly note TL 5295 by Dr Ronald Bonewitz.
See Levick, B., Vespasian (Roman Imperial Biographies), London, 1999, for discussion; see Bonanno, A., Roman Relief Sculpture to Septimius Severus, BAR Supplementary Series 6, Oxford, 1976; see Felletti Maj B.M., Museo Nazionale Romano, I Ritratti, Roma, 1953; see Bianchi Bandinelli, R., L'arte Romana nel centro del potere, dalle origini alla fine del II secolo d.C., Roma, 1969; see Scrinari, V. S. M., Sculture Romane di Aquileia, Roma, 1972; see Fittschen K., Zanker P., Katalog der römischen Porträts in den Capitolinischen Museen und den anderen kommunalen Sammlungen der Stadt Rom. Bd. I. Kaiser und Prinzenbildnisse, Mainz am Rhein, 1985; see Brizzolara, A.M., Le sculture del Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna, La collezione Marsili, Comune di Bologna, Bologna, 1986.
The person depicted appears to be an important Roman politician, possibly a magistrate or a general. His strong resemblance to the image of Lucius Licinius Sura, as represented on the Trajan's Column (Bianchi Bandinelli, 1981, p.227) represents a possibility. Sura was one of Trajan's most intimate and moderate military advisers. He was the Consul suffectus in 97 AD, later becoming the governor of Germania Inferior in 98/99 AD, where he remained until shortly before leaving for Dacia in 101 AD. He was present in both the Dacian wars waged by the emperor in 101-102 AD and 105-106 AD, and was the consul three times: in 97, 102 and 107 AD. At his death, his brotherly friend Trajan ordered a state funeral in his honour, as well as that a statue of Sura should be placed in the Forum. His figure is, however, immortalised in the marble of the Trajan's Column in Rome (sculpted between 107 and 113), deep in conversation with his emperor.