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Home > Auctions > 4th June 2024 > Roman Marble Portrait Head of Gaius Caesar

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LOT 0140

GBP (£) 30,000 - 40,000
EUR (€) 35,220 - 46,960
USD ($) 38,230 - 50,970

Opening Bid
£16,667 (EUR 19,568; USD 21,239) (+bp*)

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19 in. (17.4 kg total, 48 cm high including stand).

Modelled in the round probably using Parian marble, head of a youth depicted turning slightly to his left, hair trimmed in the Julian style; believed to be of Gaius Iulius Caesar Vipsanianus (20 B.C.- 4 A.D.); mounted on a custom-made stand.

Acquired on the London art market in the 1970s by the previous owner’s late father.
with Christie’s London, 25 April 2007, no.260.
UK private collection, London.
Anonymous sale, Bonhams, London, 16 April 2015, no.130.

Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Raffaele D’Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by a search certificate number no.163499-10061.

Cf. Toynbee, J.M.C., Roman Historical Portraits, London, 1978, p.133, 162; La Rocca, E., 'Rom als Vorbild für Pompeji: Aspekte der Kolonisierung' in Pompeji wiederentdeckt: Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Rome, 1994, pp.27-50; Hurlet, F., Les collègues du prince sous Auguste et Tibère. De la légalité républicaine à la légitimité dynastique, Rome : École Française de Rome, 1997, pp.5-692. (Publications de l'École française de Rome, 227); La Rocca, E., Ensoli S., Aurea Roma, dalla città pagana alla città cristiana, Roma, 2000; La Rocca, E. (ed.), Augusto (catalogue exhibition), Milano, 2013.

Gaius Caesar (20 B.C.-4 A.D.) and his brother Lucius Caesar (17 B.C.-2 A.D.) held significant positions in the political and dynastic plans of Emperor Augustus. Born to Augustus' daughter Julia and his advisor Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, they were adopted by Augustus in 17 B.C. to become his heirs, since he lacked natural-born sons. Portraits of the brothers depicted them as resembling Augustus, indicating their importance within the imperial family. Gaius' portraits were classified into five types, with this head identified as Type IV, likely created in 1 A.D. to celebrate his consulship. A similar portrait of Gaius exists in Corinth alongside his brother and Augustus. In 1 B.C., Gaius was appointed to govern the eastern provinces, where he successfully negotiated a peace treaty with Parthia's King Phraates V. However, tragedy struck when Gaius fell ill in Anatolia and died at 23, following the death of his brother Lucius. These deaths disrupted Augustus' plans for succession and led him to adopt Tiberius, his stepson, who eventually became emperor in 14 A.D.