A Monumental Marble Figure of an Emperor, Roman Imperial, mid 1st Century A.D., restored in the 18th/early 19th Century as the Emperor Lucius Verus


A Monumental Marble Figure of an Emperor, Roman Imperial, mid 1st Century A.D., restored in the 18th/early 19th Century as the Emperor Lucius Verus

Details & Cataloguing

Egyptian, Classical, and Western Asiatic Antiquities

New York

A Monumental Marble Figure of an Emperor, Roman Imperial, mid 1st Century A.D., restored in the 18th/early 19th Century as the Emperor Lucius Verus
standing against a palm-tree trunk with the weight on his left leg, and wearing a tunic under a leather corselet with fringed lappets falling at the waist, and cuirass, the breastplate decorated in relief on the chest with a gorgoneion, on the abdomen and back with two pairs of confronted Nereids riding sea creatures and each carrying an element of Achilles' armor, and below the navel with a female figure seated on a rocky outcrop and holding billowing drapery, each shoulder-blade carved with a scrolling acanthus tendril; the head, arms, legs, mantle, and other elements restored.
Height 83 in. 210.8 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


Duke Luigi Braschi Onesti (1745-1816), nephew of Pope Pius VI, Rome
by descent to his son, Duke Don Pio Braschi Onesti (1804-1864), Rome
Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville (1776-1839), 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, Stowe, Buckinghamshire, acquired from the above circa 1829
Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville (1797-1861), 2nd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, Stowe, Buckinghamshire (Christie, Manson, and Woods, Contents of Stowe House, August 15th, 1848, lot 17)
William Wakeford Attree, acquired at the above sale
William Lowther (1787-1872), 2nd Earl of Lonsdale, Lowther Castle, Penrith, Cumberland
then by descent to Lancelot Lowther (1867-1953), 6th Earl of Lonsdale (Maple & Co., Ltd., and Thomas Wyatt, Penrith, Cumberland, Lowther Castle, near Penrith, Cumberland. The Major Part of the Earl of Lonsdale's Collection, April 29th-May 1st, 1947, lot 2287)
English private collection, acquired at the above sale
by descent to the present owner


Stowe. A Description of the House and Gardens of the Most Noble Richard Grenville Nugent Chandos Temple, Duke of Buckingham & Chandos, London, 1832, p. 36
George Lipscomb, The History and Antiquities of the County of Buckinghamshire, vol. 3, London, 1847, p. 8
Henry Rumsey Forster, The Stowe Catalogue Priced and Annotated, London, 1848, p. 264, no. 17
Adolf Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, Cambridge, 1882, p. 490-491, no. 13 (misidentified as lot no. 19 in the 1848 Stowe sale, a statue of Marcus Aurelius, and therefore given the wrong provenance: “from the Villa of Alexander Severus, near the Via Ostiense.”)
Warwick Wroth, “Imperial Cuirass-Ornamentation and a Torso of Hadrian in the British Museum,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. VII, 1886, p. 134, no. 67
Anton Hekler, Jahreshefte des Österreichischen archäologischen Instituts in Wien, vol. 19-20, 1919, p. 221, no. 8
Max Wegner, Die Herrscherbildnisse in antoninischer Zeit (Das römische Herrscherbild 2, 4), Berlin, 1939, pp. 181 and 233
Poulsen, in P. Arndt - W. Amelung, eds., Photographische Einzelaufnahmen Antiker Sculpturen (1892-1947), no. 3076
Cornelius Vermeule and Dietrich v. Bothmer, “Notes on a New Edition of Michaelis: Ancient Marbles in Great Britain. Part Three: 2,” American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 63, 1959, p. 334
Cornelius C. Vermeule, "Hellenistic and Roman Cuirassed Statues," Berytus, vol. 13, 1959/1960, p. 45, no. 91
Max Wegner, Boreas, vol. 3, 1980, pp. 47 and 60
Hugo Meyer, Kunst und Geschichte, Munich, 1983, pp. 138-139, note 74, pl. 6 (p. 181)
Átiqot, vol. 17, 1985, p. 151f.
Thomas Schäfer, Spolia et signa. Baupolitik und Reichskultur nach dem Parthererfolg des Augustus, Göttingen, 1998, p. 44, note 163
Massimiliano Papini, Palazzo Braschi: La Collezione di Sculture Antiche, 2000, p. 91
D. Boschung - H. v.Hesberg, Die antiken Skulpturen in Newby Hall sowie in anderen Sammlungen in Yorkshire, Wiesbaden, 2007, p. 161f.n, cat. no. S8, pls. 131 and 132, 1
Warwick Wroth, “Imperial Cuirass-Ornementation and a Torso of Hadrian in the British Museum,” Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. VII, 1886, p. 134, no. 67
Arachne, no. 18477 (http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/18477)

Catalogue Note

For a similarly decorated cuirassed torso in the Villa Borghese see P. C. Bol, ed., Forschungen zur Villa Albani. Katalog der Bildwerke, vol. III, Berlin, 1992, pp. 369-370, note 21, and P. Moreno and A. Viacava, eds., I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese, Rome, 2003, p. 79, cat. no. 28 (http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/26019). For other examples see K. Stemmer, Untersuchungen zur Typologie, Chronologie und Ikonographie der Panzerstatuen, Berlin, 1978, p. 33, cat. no. III 5 (Olympia) (http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/23930), p. 63, cat. no. V 12 (Copenhagen), and p. 78, cat. no. VII 6 (Dresden). All seem to have been carved in the 1st century A.D.

The myth depicted on the cuirass refers to an episode in Homer's Iliad, when the great warrior Achilles loses his armor to the Trojans, and his mother, the Nereid Thetis, convinces Hephaestus to forge a new set, which she delivers to him with other Nereids. Whether the iconography of the cuirass has any symbolic meaning, such as a naval victory or imperial domination over the seas, is far from certain (Stemmer, op. cit., p. 157).

The present statue was first recorded in 1832, three years after it was acquired by the Duke of Buckingham, as having come from the Braschi family collection in Rome. According to Massimiliano Papini (op. cit., p. 15), the Braschi collection of antiquities was entirely formed by the year 1799. On April 19th, 1816, immediately following Don Luigi Braschi’s death, a detailed inventory was made of his collection at the family’s Palazzo located between the Corso and the Piazza Navona in Rome. The statue in its present state is not included in this inventory. One possibility is that it was then kept in one of the family’s other residences. A second possibility is that the ancient core of the statue had not yet been restored, and that the ancient cuirassed torso alone is listed as the very last item in the inventory, a “fragmento di una corazza antica, segnata col numero 127.”

If the latter is the case, the torso was restored as a complete statue between 1816 and 1829, when the Duke of Buckingham brought it to England along with two Cippolino marble tazze or basins, which do appear in the 1816 Braschi inventory. All three items were displayed on the loggia at Stowe, along with other marble figures and groups, an intricate mix of ancient and modern statuary (on the antiquities collection at Stowe, see Jonathan Scott, The Pleasures of Antiquity, British Collectors of Greek and Rome, New Haven, 2003, pp. 259-260). 

The contents of Stowe house were sold in 1848, and the present statue was purchased by William Wakeford Attree, a lawyer who was likely a purchasing agent for the 2nd Earl of Lonsdale, in whose collection at Lowther Castle the statue was next recorded. The Earl of Lonsdale was one of the richest men in England at the time, and among the last collectors of ancient marble statuary in the fashion of the 18th century. His collection was housed in two galleries which he had added to the castle in 1866 for this purpose. They both projected into the park at the back of the building and are still standing (Jonathan Scott, op. cit, pp. 263-264).

One can hypothesize as to why a mid-1st Century A.D. cuirassed torso was restored as a statue of Lucius Verus. The Antonine emperor is known as an efficient civil servant and a capable soldier, but his legacy is largely elevated by the series of exceptional rulers with whom he is associated. Lucius served as co-emperor alongside Marcus Aurelius between A.D. 161 and his untimely death in 169. Their rule was the last in a succession of so-called “adoptive emperors” of the Antonine dynasty, rulers who were adopted by their predecessors. The prosperity of the Roman Empire during this period is generally attributed to the careful selection of heirs to the throne. This occurred between the infamous reigns of Nero and Commodus, who inherited power from their predecessors. Niccolò Machiavelli termed this period of succession “Five Good Emperors” in his Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius.

This lot will be available for pick-up after the auction from a storage facility in Long Island City, NY. Beginning July 1st, 2013, the buyer will be liable for the payment of all storage and insurance charges at their standard rates.

Egyptian, Classical, and Western Asiatic Antiquities

New York