Antinous, Hadrian's Villa, SPQR

Bust of Antinous, found at Hadrian’s Villa in 1790, Vatican Museums

Bust of Antinous, found at Hadrian's Villa in 1970, Vatican Museums

White, coarse-grained marble

Height: 100 cm (plus socle)

Vatican Museums, Vatican City (Sala Rontonda) Inv. 251

Provenance: Found at Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, 1790. Briefly exhibited in Paris from 1801 until the end of Napoleon’s regime.

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. Although the broad, hollow chest is fairly typical of Antinous representations, the wide face and hair are not. This unusual hairstyle has been connected with Antinous’ servile beginners as an imperial slave of the emperor Trajan’s “familia”. (source: Vatican Museum, descriptive panel).

4 thoughts on “Bust of Antinous, found at Hadrian’s Villa in 1790, Vatican Museums”

  1. Really excellent blog! Wonderful photos and narratives of your own journeys!

    In all the reading I’ve done on Antinous, I’ve never heard it suggested before that he was a slave within Trajan’s family. (It has been suggested he’s a slave, though that tends to be in older scholarship that relies on Christian writings which say he was a slave.) Might you have a source on that? I’m always interested in at least knowing about these things and who is saying them where…

    1. Thank you for your kind words. The text is taken from the descriptive panel of the Vatican Museum. To be honest I have never heard that he was a slave of Trajan’s family either. I will try to get some info from the museum and will come back to you.

  2. I was just there today am quite surprised the bust is situated so near to the bust of Hadrian considering that erhm, it wasn’t a couple the catholic church would approve of? Eitherways, either the Vatican doesn’t know it’s history or it figures the masses are too busy looking at the larger figures rather than the more significant busts in such a prominent place.

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