The great Roman emperor hunt
I am about to go to Washington to finish preparing my Roman emperor lectures. I think I have already said that the idea is to look at the images of Roman emperors from antiquity to, more or less, the present day. This turns out to have been a bit of an over-achievement, as Roman emperors were all over the place from the fifteenth century on -- and in the last few days I have been to see some brilliant stone emperors at Salisbury Hall, some equally brilliant early Roman kings (plus the emperor Augustus) at Lullingstone Castle, and a whole load of emperors, may-be emperors and almost-certainly-not-emperors at Hampton Court.
But some of the real puzzles remain are in a quite different medium. I shall fill you in later on the wonderful silver Aldobrandini Tazze (worth a few years of a research project in their own right). But I wonder if anyone can help with one question . . . about the tremendously in-your-face series of emperors, like the Tiberius at the top of this post.
Tiberius is a ceramic masterpiece, made by an Italian ceramicist, Angelo Minghetti, in the late nineteenth century -- and he is in the V and A. This museum also has a matching Caligula and Domitian (a nice trio of villains). Meanwhile there are two others -- Julius Caesar and Nero -- in Dublin; another two -- Titus and Vespasian -- in Geneva; a Claudius in Lisbon and an Augustus in Bologna (I havent managed to get an image of either of these, so if anyone has one I would be very grateful).
That makes nine. Presumably there were originally 12 .. as in Suetonius. OK, it's possible that Minghetti decided to leave out the three we dont have (Galba, Otho and Vitellius) on the grounds that they were so shortlived that they didn't deserve a big, expensive bust to themselves. But if so, he would have been unlike most Western artists since the fifteenth century. 12 was the rule.
So where are my final three. Maybe broken. But they are pretty recognisable. So if anyone out there has seen one of these (and if you had, I dont think you'd forget) -- do let me know where they are. And you'll get full credits.
As a postscript, let me just give a tribute to the museums (especially the V and A, and the BM) and all the private owners, who have helped in my emperor hunt. It must be a pain in the butt to have someone email and say... err, I am going to the USA next week, but can I see your dish/bust/cup on Weds or Thursday. But everyone has found a time and gone way beyond the call of duty. It is that kind of availabilty, just as much as, if not more than, online speed, that give British research its distinctive style and distinction. Thank you all.