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Julio-Claudian Portraiture - Caligula


Pre-Principate Portraits of Caligula in the Round? The Walters, La Spezia and Dresden Heads


Based on the wonderful article by Prof. John Pollini's ( A Pre-Principate Portrait of Gaius Caligula? JWAG (1982)

By Joe B. Geranio

The portraiture of the Julio-Claudians is not an easy subject to examine.  The essential goals of  any  such modern  iconographic  portrait study are, first, to assemble all known portraits of a given personage;  second, to determine the appearance and style of each  of the presumed lost prototypes on which all of the known surviving replicas are based; third, to attempt to date the creation of the lost prototype and surviving replicas and other portrait versions; and fourth to try to determine the reason(s) for the creation of each type.1  The main work to date that has been carried out is Boschung’s work, Die Bildnisse des Caligula.2  First a little history of the series inaugurated by the German Archaeological  Institute.  The RomischeHerrscherbild project is an ambitious project  to collect and publish in a series of volumes (currently 12)3  entrusted to different scholars all the surviving portraits of Roman emperors and their families.

Progress had been unusually slow and the Romische Herrscherbild  project is closer to completion then it was thirteen to fifteen years ago.  For instance the comprehensive Die Bildnisse des Augustus, brought together by  Boschung, who brought this magnum opus to completion within a remarkably short time.  The portraits of the Julio- Claudian  emperors4 Present special problems because so many of the Julio-Claudians look alike-in their official likenesses, that is, perhaps  not in life.  Hairstyles really are fundamental to establishing imperial typologies.  In some ways, emperors (princeps) wore hairstyles as these were badges of identity which  helped distinguish them from other princeps and  members from the imperial family.  The same is true for imperial women and even a few private individuals.  So “curl counting” as some graduate students call it, is a useful tool because of the model of portrait production and dissemination.  The way most scholars think this worked is that the princeps  and maybe some artistic advisors sat down with a sculptor and they came up with an official prototype of how they wanted the princeps to look (hairstyle, physiognomy etc.).  That prototype was then made available and “copied” thus giving us the surviving replicas which form a “type.”  All replicas then generally share similar characteristics of hairstyle and physiognomy, although there can be a great deal of variation, based on all sorts of factors such as material, context, artists or patron’ wishes, and geography, to name a few.  A “variant” is usually something that is different enough from the “type” to establish it as a variant.  If you have two portraits that are pretty close to one another, then you call it a type or subtype.  The problem is with the gray area portraits, and I cannot think of a more gray area than pre-principate portraits of Caligula.  The problem is that identifying the childhood portraits of Germanicus,  and his sons Nero Iulius, Drusus Iulius, and Caligula is extremely difficult because of the great similarity of hairstyles and family resemblance of these closely related males.  The one pre-pricincipate undersized head from the Walters Art Gallery seems to be a likely candidate.


Pre-Principate Portrait of Caligula? Walters Art Galley, Baltimore (Photo Prof. John Pollini)  UPDATE ( The Walters Art Museum now dates this portrait pre- 37 A.D. after Pollini's article appeared?

As far as scholarly research goes there is currently no accepted pre-principate portrait of Caligula.  What we see in the possible pre-principate portraits for Caligula’s typology is, which differs from his father Germanicus is:  Caligula’s angle of his forehead in profile.  As Pollini points out  in Germanicus’ portraiture the forehead is nearly vertical or slopes back.  Caligula’s forehead either is vertical or angles forward.5  Although I feel the Walters head may be a more likely candidate of an early portrait, F. Johansen sees it as a possible Funerary portrait of a private individual.  Johansen does not give any profile view in his Getty paper on “The sculpted Portraits of Caligula," which in my opinion weakens the case for them being private funerary portraits. I feel very strongly that the La Spezia:


Caligula Pre-Principate? La Spezia Head (Photo Courtesy Prof. John Pollini)


Caligula Pre-Prinicipate? Dresden Head (Photo Courtesy Prof. John Pollini)

The Dresden head is possibly one of the strongest candidates for early portraits of caligula.  The main compelling evidence is the hairstyle, which  forks at the same point, along with the two principal locks at the right temple curl back towards the center.  Then there is the almost closed pincer formed over the right eye.  If we see the right profile of the La Spezia head  we also see the hair low on the nape of the neck, similar to the post accession Getty head.  which is another characteristic of Caligula’s portraiture.  The Polish Archaeologist Z. Kiss attempted to identify five young boys as the youthful Caligula, but none show enough evidence to have any typological connection to Caligula.7  Unless an inscription is found with the portrait, problems will continue. The only sure childhood portraits of Caligula seem to be those on the Grand Camee (pl. 35.6) and the Louvre cameo (pl. 35.7).  I still think it is possible that the Walter's Head that was published by John Pollini could be a pre-principate image,though not  a very good provincial work and well under life size. Boschung, of course, dismisses it because the hairstyle doesn't conform. It could be mushed because of the provincial nature of the work. The facial features (the elongated face and wide, high forehead) do resemble him. But if not, Caligula this would be a case of Zeitgesicht.  We cannot forget that, too, we only have a very small fraction of the portraits that were produced in antiquity.  Ergo, if we only have two close portraits that are extant, how many lost works might there be behind these two extant portraits.  Although there may be only two representatives of type today, in 50 years there may be quite a number of new works of that same type , given the plethara of new finds and scholarship that come up every year.  For example, SinceBoschung has published his book on the portraits of Augustus, there have been a number of new portraits of Augustus which have surfaced.  Of the nearly 250 portraits of Augustus that have come down to us, there may have been more than 50,000! set up through out the empire.  Portrait typology in the case of pre-principate Caligulan portraiture is very subjective business. Type I is the Herkalion type:  and type II is the Copenhagen type.  The Haupttypus (i.e.type I) of Caligula was undoubted created when he came to power in 37; it first and foremost reflected Tiberius’ hairstyle and indirectly that of his father, who in reality was imitating Tiberius as the next in line to succeed Tiberius.  I argue that Tiberius’ last portrait type is the Chiaramonti type (a rejuvenated type), not as Boschung argued the Copenhagen (cat. 624).  Boschung’s Nebentypus I, which is somewhat related to be sure to the Haupttypus, can in my opinion be considered a second type, his type II.  It specifically recalls one of his father Germanicus’ types, as represented in the head from Tarragona (see Boschung’s Gens Aug. cat.), more than the Bezier’s portrait of Germanicus that Boschung mentions.  This hairstyle is very different than any of Tiberius’s several types.  Boschung can’t explain what necessitated the creation of his Nebentypus I, which he takes is represented in six replicas and all created in his principate.  These are, in my opinion, close enough to one another to be considered a separate type,  his type II.  A number of these type II portraits (unlike most of the Haupttypus replicas) show him with corona civica, which Boschung associates with the title of Pater Patriae that he accepts (unlike Tiberius) at the outset of his principate.  Boschung’s speculated Nebentypus II seems to be s spin off of Boschung’s Nebentypus I, with an Augustus look about it (esp. Metro Mus. NY, Boschung pl. 37).  I suspect this was a special issue, sort of like Roman special medallion issues.  I would think that his type II (known in six replicas) were created in 40 after his “triumphal” return from the northern frontier, for which he received an ovatio—the real triumph was to come after he conquered Britain (had he not been assassinated).  He had made incursions into Germany like his father Germanicus (hence the name, which actually goes back to Tiberius’ brother Drusus I) may explain why the lock configuration resembled that of his father Germanicus, and not Tiberius.  In this way, he could underscore the likening himself to Germanicus rather than Tiberius (after all Tiberius hairdo was already used in typeI).  Although he would have worn a myrtle crown for the actual ovation (that is if he followed tradition), the wearing of the corona civica in his portraits inthe round would have underscored his saving the lives of citizens alla Augustus.  Interestingly, no portraits in the round of any princeps or male member of the family are shown wearing a myrtle crown.  I feel the Walters and Dresden portraits are Pre-Principate Portraits of Gaius (Caligula).  Interestingly enough the only coinage from Carthago Nova have prePrincipate portraits of Caligula.9

The Dresden head is possibly one of the strongest candidates for early portraits of caligula.  The main compelling evidence is the hairstyle, which forks at the same point, along with the two principal locks at the right temple curl

back towards the center.  Then there is the almost closed pincer formed over the right eye.  If we see the right profile of the La Spezia head  we also see the hair low on the nape of the neck, similar to the post accession Getty head.  which is another characteristic of Caligula’s portraiture.  The Polish Archaeologist Z. Kiss attempted to identify five young boys as the youthful Caligula, but none show enough evidence to have any typological connection to Caligula.7  Unless an inscription is found with the portrait, problems will continue. The only sure childhood portraits of Caligula seem to be those on the Grand Camee (pl. 35.6) and the Louvre cameo (pl. 35.7).  I still think it is possible that the Walter's Head that was published by John Pollini could be a pre-principate image,though not  a very good provincial work and well under life size. Boschung, of course, dismisses it because the hairstyle doesn't conform. It could be mushed because of the provincial nature of the work. The facial features (the elongated face and wide, high forehead) do resemble

him. But if not, Caligula this would be a case of Zeitgesicht.  We cannot forget that, too, we only have a very small fraction of the portraits that were produced in antiquity.  Ergo, if we only have two close portraits that are extant, how many lost works might there be behind these two extant portraits.  Although there may be only two representatives of type today, in 50 years there may be quite a number of new works of that same type , given the plethara of new finds and scholarship that come up every year.  For example, SinceBoschung has published his book on the portraits of Augustus, there have been a number of new portraits of Augustus which have surfaced.  Of the nearly 250 portraits of Augustus that have come down to us, there may have been more than 50,000! set up through out the empire.  Portrait typology in the case of pre-principate Caligulan portraiture is very subjective business. Type I is the Herkalion type:  and type II is the Copenhagen type.  The Haupttypus (i.e. type I) of Caligula was undoubted created when he came to power in 37; it first and foremost reflected Tiberius’ hairstyle and indirectly that of his father, who in reality was imitating Tiberius as the next in line to succeed Tiberius.  I argue that Tiberius’ last portrait type is the Chiaramonti type (a rejuvenated type), not as Boschung argued the Copenhagen (cat. 624).  Boschung’s Nebentypus I, which is somewhat related to be sure to the Haupttypus, can in my opinion be considered a second type, his type II.  It specifically recalls one of his father Germanicus’ types, as represented in the head from Tarragona (see Boschung’s Gens Aug. cat.), more than the Bezier’s portrait of Germanicus that Boschung mentions.  This hairstyle is very different than any of Tiberius’s several types.  Boschung can’t explain what necessitated the creation of his Nebentypus I, which he takes is represented in six replicas and all created in his principate.  These are, in my opinion, close enough to one another to be considered a separate type,  his type II.  A number of these type II portraits (unlike most of the Haupttypus replicas) show him with corona civica, which Boschung associates with the title of Pater Patriae that he accepts (unlike Tiberius) at the outset of his principate.  Boschung’s speculated Nebentypus II seems to be s spin off of Boschung’s Nebentypus I, with an Augustus look about it (esp. Metro Mus. NY, Boschung pl.37).  I suspect this was a special issue, sort of like Roman special medallion issues.  I would think that his type II (known in six replicas) were created in 40 after his “triumphal” return from the northern frontier, for which he received an ovatio—the real triumph was to come after he conquered Britain (had he not been assassinated).  He had made incursions into Germany like his father Germanicus (hence the name, which actually goes back to Tiberius’ brother Drusus I) may explain why the lock configuration resembled that of his father Germanicus, and not Tiberius.  In this way, he could underscore the likening himself to Germanicus rather than Tiberius (after all Tiberius hairdo was already used in typeI).  Although he would have worn a myrtle crown for the actual ovation (that is if he followed tradition), the wearing of the corona civica in his portraits inthe round would have underscored his saving the lives of citizens alla Augustus.  Interestingly, no portraits in the round of any princeps or male member of the family are shown wearing a myrtle crown.  I feel the Walters and Dresden portraits are Pre-Principate Portraits of Gaius (Caligula).  Interestingly enough the only coinage from Carthago Nova have prePrincipate portraits of Caligula.9

SPAIN, Carthago Nova. Tiberius, with Gaius (Caligula) as Caesar. AD 14-37. Æ As (29mm, 11.71 g, 3h). Struck AD 33-37. Laureate head of Tiberius left / Bare head of Gaius left. RPC 182; SNG Copenhagen 502. cngcoins.com

1.  See in general J. Pollini, Book Review, Dietrich Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Augustus, Das romische Herrscherbild, pt. 1, vol. 2.

2. See D. Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Caligula.  Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, Das romische Herrscherbild 1,4 Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1989.  138pp, 52 pls. ISBN 3-7861-1524-9. DM190.

3. I 7: D. Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Caligula (1989)
II 1: G. Daltrop - U. Hausmann - M. Wegner, Die Flavier. Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Julia, Titi, Domitilla, Domitia (1966)
II 2: W. H. Groß, Bildnisse Trajans (1940)
II 3: M. Wegner, Hadrian, Plotina, Marciana, Matidia, Sabina (1956)
II 4: M. Wegner, Die Herrscherbildnisse in antoninischer Zeit (1940)
III 1: H. B. Wiggers - M. Wegner, Caracalla, Geta, Plautilla, Macrinus bis Balbinus (1971)
III 2: R. Delbrueck, Die Münzbildnisse von Maximinus bis Carinus (1940)
III 3: M. Wegner, Gordianus III. bis Carinus (1979)
III 4: H. P. L'Orange - M. Wegner, Das spätantike Herrscherbild von Diokletian bis zu den Konstantin-Söhnen 284-361 n. Chr. Die Bildnisse der Frauen und des Julian (1984)
III 5: Th. Pekáry, Das römische Kaiserbildnis in Staat, Kult und Gesellschaft (1985)
IV: A.-K. Massner, Bildnisangleichung. Untersuchungen zur Entstehungs- und Wirkungsgeschichte des Augustusporträts (43I 2: D. Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Augustus (1993)

4. See Pollini (as in n. 1), 725  In English and American scholarship, the use of emperor and empress),  which has been so prevelant, projects false notions onto the past, especially in terms of leadership and governance.  Although Rome had acquired an empire (imperium) already under the republic, Caligula was not an emperor, a word that, of course, derives from imperator but had a quite different meaning in antiquity.  Caligula’s, like that of Augustus was princeps (“first citizen” or “leader”), a term already In use under the republic.  The Roman historian Tacitus (Annales 1.9), writing in the 2ndcentury c.e., pointed out that Augustus had established neither a kingship nor a dictatorship but a principate (governance by a princeps):  “Non regno tamen neque dictatura , sed principe nominee constitutam rem publicam.”

5. Possible “pre-principate portraits of Caligula: see John Pollini, “A Pre-Principate Portrait of  Gaius (Caligula)?”, The Journal of The Walters Art Gallery, Volume 40.  There  has been few work to date on the Walters Head.   (1982) pp.1-12.  The Walters head is much debated and some scholars; such as Boschung see the head as possibly Nero Julius son of Germanicus and brother of Caligula. See Z. Kiss, L’Iconographie des Princes (Warsaw, 1975), p. 150 figs. 533-539  attempts to identify five portraits of young boys as the young Caligula.  See L. Fabbrini, RomMitt 73-74 (1966-1967), pp. 140ff. pls. 44-45.  See F. Johansen, The Sculptured Portraits of Caligula, Ancient Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Volume 1 1987, p. 95.  Johansen see the portrait found at Carthage as an early portrait of Caligula before his accession. See H. von Heintze, Die antiken Portrats in Schlob Fasanerie bei Fulda (Mainz, 1968), no. 21.  For the proposal that the La Spezia and Dresden portraits may represent the youthful Gaius (rather than his father Germanicus):  H. Jucker, “Die Prinzen auf dem Augustus-relief in Ravenna.”Melanges d’histoire ancienne et d’archeologie offerts a Paul Collart (Lausanne: 1976), p.249, n.64 On the bust (found in the theater at Luni) in the Museo Archeologico, La Spezia, inv. No 54.

6. Johansen, F., (1987) pp.  94-95, sees the La Spezia and Walters Head a private individuals. See Pollini, See in general J. Pollini, Book Review, Dietrich Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Augustus, Das romische Herrscherbild, pt. 1, vol. 2. pp. 723-25.  Proper photographic documentation is crucial.  Photo of  way head was meant to be portrayed, frontal, right and left profiles, as well as photo of the top of head and back.  Pollini makes strong point and I have also thought that proper photographic documentation is crucial to any portrait study.

7. Kiss, Z., L’iconographie des Princes (Warsaw 1975), p. 150 figs. 533-539. Johansen, F., p. 93 for explanation of five young portraits

8. Geranio, Joe, Portraits of Caligula: The Seated Figure? Journal of the Society for Ancient Numismatics (1997) Vol. XX, No. 1 pp- 30. 

9. For problems with the dating of Tiberian Coinage see RPC and A. Banti and L. Simonetti, Corpus Nummorum Romanorum (XIII Florence: 1977 pp. 141-50 deal with dating to 34 A.D. (PolliniJWAG, note 28 for more explanation.  Also:  "Aspects of the Principate of Tiberius", Historical comments on the Colonial coinage issued outside Spain, Michael Grant- The American Numismatic Society - Numismatic Notes and Monographs(1950)  There are some issues with inscriptions and dating in Banti Simonetti.


1. See, D. Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Caligula. Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, Das romische Herrscherbild 1,4 Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1989.

2. MFA description.

3. See, J. Pollini, A new Marble Head of Tiberius, Antike Kunst, Vol. 48. 2005; Plate 8-figs. 5-6.

4. See, J. Pollini, The Portraiture of Gaius and Lucius Caesars, Plate 22. Fordham Univ Pr (November 1987)

5. Pollini, AK, Vol. 48, pp66-67. Hertel, Caligula-Bildnisse vom Typus Fasanerie in Spanien, Madrider Mitteilungen 23, 1982. pp. 281-82. P. Zanker in: Fittschen, Zanker 15.Cf. See D. Boschung, Die Bildnistypen der iulisch-claudischen Kaiserfamilie: ein kritischer Forschungsbericht, JRA 6, 1993, 39-79.

6. See J. Geranio, Portraits of Caligula: The Seated Figure? for more on typology on Caligula with numismatics. Society of Ancient Numismatics, Vol. XX, no.1.


 

Caligula, an Unknown Portrait?

by Joe Geranio

To my knowledge this is an unpublished work of Julio-Claudian art. I my opinion it clearly represents Gaius Caligula both Iconographically and Numismatically.

An Un-Published Portrait of Gaius (Caligula)  I first blogged about this portrait in 2004, and D. Boschung does not include in his work on the portraits of Caligula, Die Bildnisse des Caligula", (gerbruder-mann 1989). 

Caligula (Museo Archeologico dei Campi Flegrei Baie). Photo courtesy Mr. Jennings.

After all the photos I have seen of Caligula, I have never run across this portrait. The portrait to my knowledge has never been published. The portrait in profile has all the physiognomy and hairstyle of Gaius Caligula. I am sure there will be a publication identifying the portrait in the future. This portrait is not in the work of Caligula's extant portraiture by D. Boschung, "Die Bildnisse des Caligula." This profile view clearly represents a possible rare glimpse of the young Princeps who ruled from 37 - 41 A.D. The portrait resides In the Museo Archeologico dei Campi Flegrei in Baia. I sent the photo of this portrait off to two Art Historians who have never seen this portrait, and according to some who have been to the museum, the photo was not tagged. The portrait is clearly Caligula.

This almost frontal view of the same photo above has the character hairstyle, depression in forhead and physiognomy of Caligula. This was found while I was doing my research on Caligula's coinage.


Joe Geranio

Julio Claudian Iconographic Association

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/julioclaudian