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Old Jul 22, 2011, 04:41 AM   #1
Joe Geranio
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A Rare Relief With A Portrait Of Emperor Tiberius - Julio Claudian- Joe Geranio

A Roman Marble Relief of the Emperor Tiberius Julio-Claudian Period, circa early 1st century A.D. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.

An Imperial commission, perhaps from an altar or other civic monument, superbly sculpted in high relief with the emperor Tiberius standing before a seated Genius with the goddess Concordia between them as an intermediary, Tiberius to the left facing right, wearing sandals and a traditional toga over a tunic, standing with his weight on his left leg, the right bent at the knee and projecting back, a scroll in his lowered left hand, his right extending towards the Genius, their hands clasped, a thick wreath in his wavy locks, his features youthful, the Genius (either the Genius Augusti or the Genius Populi Romani) seated on a fringed pillow on an elaborate throne, his feet on a foot stool, the leg of the throne in the form of adorsed palmettes, the back with scrolling, topped by a rosette framed by fronds, the god wearing a himation that exposes his muscular torso, extending his right arm to Tiberius, holding a cornucopia in his left hand, its surface with volutes and rosettes in low relief, the goddess with her body frontal, her head turned toward the Genius, her left arm extended toward him with her hand resting on his shoulder, wearing a chiton and himation, a crescentic diadem in her wavy center-parted hair, a two-line Latin inscription partially preserved above, reading: AD [C...], [...]S TI AVGVUST [C...], a projecting plinth below - 35 in. (88.9 cm.) high. Estimation on request.

Provenance: Said to be from southern Spain.
D. Arturo Moya Moreno, Seville, Spain, acquired in the 1950s.
Spanish export license, from the Ministry of Culture no. 237/2008.

Notes: An exceedingly rare sculpture and masterwork from the Julio-Claudian period, this profoundly important historical relief adds significantly to the known corpus of Roman imperial sculpture and contributes to our understanding of Roman state religion. This relief is purported to be from Southern Spain in the western provinces of the Roman Empire, which increases the its rarity and historical interest. Among the wealthiest provinces, the area was known for its exports of olive oil and metals from the port of Hispalis on the Guadalquivir River. Several Roman building complexes have been discovered in the vicinity.

The lower row of the inscription can be interpreted as S[ALUS] TI[BERIUS] AVGUST[US] C[AESAR], a reference to the adopted son of Augustus, the Emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero (14-37 A.D.), governing as Tiberius Caesar Augustus. The epithet "Augustus" was added to the name Tiberius Caesar after his adoption by Augustus in 4 A.D.

The standing male figure to the left undoubtedly depicts Tiberius, recognizable from his many surviving portraits. For the pose and rich drapery compare the figure, likely of Tiberius, from the Suovetaurilia relief in Paris, no. 117 in Kleiner, Roman Sculpture. See also the figure of Tiberius from the south frieze of the Ara Pacis Augustae, no. 75 in Kleiner, op. cit.

The solemnity of the scene is striking and the relief's strongly narrative iconography alludes to a particular event in which historical and mythological figures are intermingled. Such subject matter is so rare that it gives the relief a prominent place in imperial iconography and the history of Roman art. It may commemorate an offering from the emperor Tiberius Augustus Caesar to the Genius Augusti or the Genius Populi Romani with Concordia as intermediary.

The relief dates either to the period after the adoption of Tiberius by Augustus on 26 January 4 A.D. or sometime after the accession of Tiberius as emperor in 14 A.D. Tiberius became emperor at age fifty-six and on this relief he is still represented within the classical ideal, eternally youthful like his predecessor Augustus. In his left hand he holds an object that appears to be a scroll, perhaps a document referring to a law, act, or treaty, which would benefit from the intervention of the goddess Concordia.

The goddess Concordia was the Roman incarnation of the Greek goddess Harmonia, daughter of Aphrodite and Ares. She wears a crescentic diadem upon a classical hairstyle, and is dressed in Greek attire. As goddess of harmony, agreement, truce, and peace, Concordia personified the good relationship among members of a family or inhabitants of a country. The Roman Senate often appealed for her intervention to solve civil unrest. The festival of Caristia (from caritas, love, affection) was celebrated in her honor. On this occasion family members reconciled with each other over any discord. In Rome the first temple to Concordia was built on the lower slopes of the Capitoline Hill overlooking the Forum in 367 B.C. by Marcus Furius Camillus at the request of the Senate. The rebuilding of this temple by Tiberius, who dedicated it in 10 A.D., must have solidified his identification with the cult of harmonious agreement as personified by Concordia. The new temple foreshadowed the use of this goddess and her image within the empire, and in the case of the Tiberius relief, as Concordia of the provinces. The placement of Concordia on this relief underlies her role as intermediary between Tiberius and an enthroned male figure toward which her gestures express a familiarity and close relationship.

The richly embellished throne upon which the Genius sits hearkens back to Hellenistic prototypes with high straight backs and legs with palmette decoration. The back of the throne is adorned with rosettes, volutes, and decorative scrollwork in contrast to the undecorated footrest, which is of a simple rectangular design. Generally the Genius Augusti, like the Genius Populi Romani, was represented by a togate male figure carrying a cornucopia.

The genius represents a deified concept that is present in every individual person, place or thing. The genius was originally related to the family-cult, honored in each household. Under Rome's first emperors the concept was expanded, and quickly became an important element of the Roman ruler-cult. As divi filius (son of the deified one--the deified Julius Caesar), Augustus had a mediating role with the divine, a role that would be passed on to his own adopted son, Tiberius, thereby maintaining a system of control for the succession of the Julio-Claudian emperors. For a depiction of the Genius Augusti see an as minted by Nero, no. 199 in Kent, Roman Coins.

Based upon size and shape, the relief is likely part of an altar or other monument. Such a work would have been made either during his reign as emperor, or after his adoption by Augustus all but assured his succession. The relief's harmonious sculptural program follows the trend toward neoclassicism prevalent in Roman art during the first half of the first century A.D. This hearkening back to Classical and Hellenistic styles in both art and literature supported the efforts of Augustus and the Julio-Claudians to elevate their dynasty to heights of mythic and epic grandeur. Roman works of art that were endowed with the dignity, nobility, and restraint of Classical Greek art were created to function as imperial propaganda.

The relief is carved with great technical precision using a technique that combines depth and perspective within the limited thickness of the marble slab. The throne and seated figure, deeply carved in three-quarter view, appear to be in the foreground while the standing female figure, done with more shallow carving, appears in the background, creating depth and perspective. The sculptor of the relief was an artist of importance and considerable skill, one well acquainted with Classical and Hellenistic styles of drapery. He created a harmonious sculptural composition for the clothing of the figures, as it sometimes clings to the body, revealing it beneath, or gathers apparently heavy cloth in thick sumptuous folds that add a richness of contrasting light and dark areas.

This sculptural technique ultimately hearkens back to fifth century B.C. masterworks of Greek relief sculpture, like the figures on the Parthenon frieze. Equally inspired by the classicism of the Parthenon frieze and closer in date to the relief of Tiberius, the Ara Pacis Augustae (13-9 B.C.) offers us a comparable program of relief sculpture. Augustus (Deeds, 12) tells us that after settling affairs in Gaul and Spain and upon arriving in Rome in 13 B.C., the Senate voted that an Altar of Augustan Peace be consecrated for his return. The popular sentiment that associated the coming of peace and stability with the Deified Caesar Augustus allowed the Julio-Claudians their claim to rule the Roman Empire, and the Ara Pacis Augustae must have been a crucially important purveyor of that message. Similar sentiment is portrayed on a more intimate level, but in the same style, on the Gemma Augustea, which shows a victorious Tiberius before a defied Augustus enthroned (see fig. 182 in Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus). This relief of Tiberius must have echoed the same message, particularly to those citizens of southern Spain who viewed this magnificently sculptured work of art, all the more impressive and influential in a land distant from Rome.
EDUCATIONAL USE ONLY- JULIO CLAUDIAN ICONOGRAPHIC BLOG
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Old Jul 29, 2011, 07:52 AM   #2
marcus flavius
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Thank you so much for this interesting read. I learned much and I enjoy looking at the peaceful reprose of the scene figures. Beautiful
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Old Jul 29, 2011, 05:15 PM   #3
Joe Geranio
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Your very welcome Marcus Flavius!!!!!!
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