I'm hard at work on my "Twelve Caesars" lectures in Washington. And I'm thinking about the question of how, why and when modern, living people were represented, in portraits statues, wearing Roman dress -- like Pitt the Younger by Nollekens, above.
There have been flurries of interest in particular aspects of this question (in, for example, the tirade of Joshua Reynolds against Benjamin West, for doing his painting of the Death of Wolfe, below, in modern, rather than Roman, kit). But my question is a bigger one. When, in the mainstream tradition of Anglo-American portrait sculpture does it become simply unthinkable to put your sitter in a toga or Roman armour? It was an option often taken, though never exclusive, from the beginning of the modern tradition of portraiture, in the fifteenth century century on. When did it start to seem silly? (We cant, after all imagine David Cameron, JFK or even Churchill being sculpted 'all'antica".)
And a related, but significantly different question, is: which is the latest mainstream portrait we can find, in which the sitter is portrayed in Roman costume?