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Mask of beardless satyr. Architectural decoration from the Academia Theater at Villa Adriana in Tivoli . Theatre masks in marble were common ornaments in classical antiquity. Sometimes as here, they were made as separate objects for suspension (oscilla). These masks were suspended from trees, whence comes "oscillation."

 

Marble sculpture

Second half 2nd century AD

From Tivoli, Villa Adriana

Vatican City State, Vatican Museums, Museo Pio Clementino, Inv. 357

 

Thousand of small tesserae and incredible accuracy are visible in the famous Dove Mosaic of the Capitoline Museum, which was found in 1737 by Cardinal Alessandro Furietti in the ACCADEMIA. It is one of the world masterpieces of mosaic art in all times, and many scholars believe it is Hellenistic. Donderer thinks that it could be the famous Dove Mosaics by Sosos which ancient sources described in the royal palaces of Pergamon.

The face of the emperor Hadrian's young "favourite" is framed by thick hair with thick, curly ringlets falling over the forehead and below the neck. This unusual hairstyle has been connected with Antinous' servile beginners as an imperial slave of the emperor Trajan's "familia". The portrait can be dated to between 130 and 138 AD.

Roman copy of a bronze original of the 5th century BC

From Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, Lazio, Italy

 

This marble statue is one of several copies of a lost bronze original of the fifth century BC which was attributed to the sculptor Myron (flourished about 470-440 BC). The head on this figure has been wrongly restored, and should be turned to look towards the discus. The popularity of the sculpture in antiquity was no doubt due to its representation of the athletic ideal. Discus-throwing was the first element in the pentathlon, and while pentathletes were in some ways considered inferior to those athletes who excelled at a particular sport, their physical appearance was much admired. This was because no one particular set of muscles was over-developed, with the result that their proportions were harmonious.

 

A number of ancient discuses of either marble or metal, and of various weights, survive. Little is known of the distances achieved in antiquity, though an epigram celebrating a throw of 30 metres (95 feet) comes as a surprise in the modern world, where the current world record is just over 70 metres. However, the ancient technique of discus-throwing may have been rather different: there is no representational evidence for anything more than a three-quarter turn, rather than the two and a half turns used today, and this may be one factor making a direct comparison difficult.

 

www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_object...

Roman, probably a copy of a Hellenistic original of about 200 BC

From Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli, Italy

 

This marble head with its very distinctive attitude and expression would have remained incomprehensible were it not for evidence that came to light in the late 1950s in the 'Grotto of Tiberius' at Sperlonga on the coast of Italy. Here, remains of a sculptural group showing an episode (the Blinding of Polyphemus) from the exploits of the hero Odysseus were revealed.

 

Polyphemus, a one-eyed giant, was shown sleeping, intoxicated by the wine provided by Odysseus and his men, who were captives in the monster's cave. Odysseus had instructed his crew to sharpen an olive pole and heat it in the fire. The sculptural group showed Odysseus' men just on the point of driving the pole into the Cyclops' single eye. The horror of what was about to happen, and the fear of the consequences, were shown on the face of one man: turning to flee, he glances in anguish towards the giant, the wine-skin which had provided the Cyclops' downfall still in his left hand.

 

This head shows the face of the unfortunate man in a version that may itself have formed part of a larger composition. Alternatively, the success with which the original sculptor had captured the moment of terror may have led to copies of this figure being made and circulated for their own sake. This head has suffered some damage: the nose, lips and bust are modern restorations.

 

Gösta Säflund, The Polyphemus and Scylla groupe (Stockholm, Almqvist & Wiksell, 1972)

Villa Hadriana near Tivoli (Italy), acquire in 1846

Differently coloured natural stones, around 130 AD

 

The mosaic was part of the floor decoration of the dining room in the main palace within Emperor Hadrian's extensive villa complex to the east of Rome. It is one of the most significant Roman mosaics. Presumably, it was modelled after a Greek panel painting or mosaic from the Hellenistic period.

Colossal mask representing Attis. The hero is recognizable from his Phrygian cap.

The association of Attis with the theatre begins in the early years of the imperial period. He makes his first recorded theatrical debut in the course of one of the extravagant festivals instituted by Nero, the Iuvenalia. This performance consisted of the emperor himself singing to his own accompaniment on the lyre, some piece called 'Attis' or 'The Bacchantes'.

 

Marble sculpture

Second half 2nd century AD

From Tivoli, Villa Adriana

Vatican City State, Vatican Museums, Museo Pio Clementino, Inv. 1147

 

Bruttia Crispina (164–191?) was Roman Empress from 178 to 191 and the consort of Roman Emperor Commodus. Her marriage to Commodus did not produce an heir, and her husband was thus succeeded by Pertinax.

 

The krater is representative of the taste for the exotic, typical of the decoration of specific sectors of Hadrian's Villa such as the Maritime Theatre, the Canopus and the Golden court.

The original was made in the 3rd century BC and depicted Aphrodite (Venus) bathing, with her arms covering herself as if the viewer had just walked in on the goddess. The style was often copied with many variations - sometimes the goddess seems unaware of her observers, in one she has her fingers buried in her hair as though in the middle of washing it. There is often a small Cupid/Eros flying above her (often all that remains is his hand on her back) holding a mirror for her. While far from the most complete, this Aphrodite is considered one of the most beautiful.

 

This type of Aphrodite was a favorite in the decoration of fountains and baths and in fact comes from one of the villa's buildings used for this purpose, the so-called Heliocaminus Baths.

From Tivoli, Hadrian's Villa, Canopus (1736 excavations)

Period of Hadrian 131-138 AD

Grey marble

Height 50 cm.

cat. 22807.

 

Bust of Osiris who is born from the lotus flower, erroneously restored in '700 with the lower part female. In the Serapeum of the Canopus Hadrian begins a courageous attempt at religious reform, deifying his lover Antinous, drowned precisely in the canal called Canopus which linked Alexandria to the main branch of the Nile, through the assimilation with Osiris, the god that dies and is reborn, in his turn associated by the Ptolomies with Serapis, Alexandrian divinity of salvation.

From Tivoli, Hadrian's Villa, Palestra (found circa 1550)

Period of Hadrian 131-138 AD

White marble

Height120 cm.

cat. 22804.

 

Monumental bust of the goddess Isis-Sothis-Demeter, considered the bearer of the flood of the River Nile. The bust did in fact tower above a fountain that was supplied by a huge cistern which, operated by complex hydraulic mechanisms, was able to reproduce in the Canopus a sort of flood of the Nile. The association of Isis with Sothis was due to the fact that in 139 a new Sothic cycle was beginning (every 1465 years) and Hadrian had programmed a series of festivities for the occasion.

 

The Shrine of Serapis (Serapeum), which must have been a symbolic representation of the Valley of the Nile, was restructured after the journey of Hadrian in Egypt of 130-131 AD, during which the emperors lover Antinous lost his life. The Serapeum was purposely decorated with statues portraying the cults of Osiris (the god that dies and rises again), identified with the deified Antinous, and the cult of the Alexandrian god Serapis, of whom Hadrian was a strong supporter. A complex hydraulic system operated a waterfall fountain, which drew water from a large cistern, that celebrated the cycle of the flood of the Nile bearer of life. Above the fountain was a bust of the goddess Isis-Sothis-Demeter.

Roman, mid-2nd c. CE

Discovered by Gavin Hamilton at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli in 1769.

 

Vatican Museums, inv. 2779

Bigio morato marble.

Tivoli (Tibur), from Hadrian's Villa.

Hadrianic period (117-138 CE).

 

Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Massimo.

 

Fregio in marmo bigio morato con centauri.

Tivoli (Tibur). Da Villa Adriana.

Età adrianea (117-138 CE).

Bigio morato marble.

Tivoli (Tibur), from Hadrian's Villa.

Hadrianic period (117-138 CE).

 

Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Massimo.

 

Fregio in marmo bigio morato con centauri.

Tivoli (Tibur). Da Villa Adriana.

Età adrianea (117-138 CE).

Bigio morato marble.

Tivoli (Tibur), from Hadrian's Villa.

Hadrianic period (117-138 CE).

 

Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Massimo.

 

Fregio in marmo bigio morato con centauri.

Tivoli (Tibur). Da Villa Adriana.

Età adrianea (117-138 CE).

Tivoli (Tibur), Villa of Hadrian.

Hadrianic period (117-138 CE).

 

Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Massimo.

 

Fanciulla danzante.

Tivoli (Tibur). Da Villa Adriana.

Età adrianea (117-138 CE).

Roman, 2nd century AD

Said to be from Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, Lazio, Italy

 

The Athenian politician

 

Perikles (died 429 BC) led the democracy of Athens at the height of the city's power and influence. He gathered around him a circle of poets, architects and artists, whose works include a programme of renewal of the principal religious and civic buildings of Athens. The crowning glory was the Parthenon, erected on the Acropolis between 447 and 432 BC. Perikles was famous for the power of his oratory (public speaking) that enabled him to rule Athens almost without opposition.

 

This is a Roman copy of an original portrait which was perhaps created in Perikles' own day, or shortly after his death. However, it probably bears little physical resemblance to Perikles' actual appearance, showing an ideal type of the mature soldier citizen, wearing a helmet pushed back on his head.

 

The portrait is shaped as a 'terminal bust' for mounting on a square shaft of stone. It is said to come from the Roman emperor Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, near Rome. It was later part of the collection of Charles Townley.

 

G.M.A. Richter, The portraits of the Greeks (London, Phaidon, 1965)

Roman, 2 century AD

 

Colossal head, probably of Zeus, set into a modern bust. From the villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian at Tivoli.

 

Presented to the British Museum by J.T. Barber Beaumont in 1836.

Marble from 2nd century AD

Excavated/Found at Hadrian's Villa, Pantanello? (According to Piranesi, the ancient parts were found at Hadrian's Villa)

Made by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (in present form)

 

Marble basin consisting of a fluted bowl supported on two griffin's legs and central column springing from a floral ball. Below is an oval platform decorated with scale pattern supported by six blocks carved with grotesque heads. The blocks rest on a rectangular plinth decorated with scroll ornament.

The bowl is of dubious antiquity. The legs are antique table or chair supports. The central floral column is certainly ancient (the support under it is new). The oval table is not genuine; the supporting heads are partly ancient having originally served as acroteria on the lid of a sarcophagus but the plinths with basket decoration are 18th century. The rectangular plinth slab has ornament carved in the early 3rd century AD but it has been altered to adapt it to its present use.

18th century, incorporating Roman fragments (2nd century AD)

From Tivoli, Italy

 

The celebrated Italian architect and engraver Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) is best known for his architectural views of ancient and modern Rome aimed at the Grand Tour market. By the late 1760s he began to engage in the lucrative restoration and sale of antiquities. In business partnership with the British dealer Gavin Hamilton (1723-98), he acquired in 1769 a great number of ancient fragments found at the Pantanello, a site on the grounds of the villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian at Tivoli near Rome. He restored these fragments and incorporated them into highly decorative pastiches, many of which he published in Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi… (2 vols, 1778). Most of the plates in this publication were dedicated to past or prospective clients, over fifty of whom were British, indicating their pre-eminence on the antiquities market.

 

Piranesi's description of this vase in his book (vol. II plates 58-59) praises it as a fine work of the time of the Roman emperor Hadrian (reigned AD 117-138). However, it does not mention that only small sections of it are ancient (two of the bull's heads on the base, sections of the lion's legs and parts of the relief depicting satyrs picking grapes), while the rest are entirely of his own making. In effect, the vase is a grand neo-classical work rather than an antiquity.

 

The Piranesi Vase was acquired in Rome by the Scottish merchant John Boyd. A large West Indian proprietor, Boyd had been made a baronet in 1775 and immediately after embarked on his Grand Tour of Italy from 1775 to 1776. He owned Danson House, Bexley, a handsome Georgian villa built in 1762-67 by the architect Sir Robert Taylor, where he displayed his large collection of paintings, books and a number of antiquities

 

A. Oddy (ed.), The art of the conservator-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

 

A.H Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in -2, vol. 3 (London, British Museum, 1904)

Villa Hadriana near Tivoli (Italy), acquire in 1846

Differently coloured natural stones, around 130 AD

 

The mosaic was part of the floor decoration of the dining room in the main palace within Emperor Hadrian's extensive villa complex to the east of Rome. It is one of the most significant Roman mosaics. Presumably, it was modelled after a Greek panel painting or mosaic from the Hellenistic period.

Villa Hadriana near Tivoli (Italy), acquire in 1846

Differently coloured natural stones, around 130 AD

 

The mosaic was part of the floor decoration of the dining room in the main palace within Emperor Hadrian's extensive villa complex to the east of Rome. It is one of the most significant Roman mosaics. Presumably, it was modelled after a Greek panel painting or mosaic from the Hellenistic period.