The National Roman Museum Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome houses one of the world’s most important collections of Greek and Roman art. On the four floors of the museum, sculptures, frescoes and mosaics, coins and jewels document the evolution of the Roman artistic culture from the late Republican age through Late Antiquity. In the rooms of the first floor are displayed numerous portraits of the members of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty.
The Nervan dynasty consisted of four emperors who ruled from 96 AD to 138 AD. These Emperors were Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian. The Antonine dynasty consisted of four emperors, ruling from 132 to 192 AD. These Emperors were Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and Commodus.
Imperial portraiture of men and women in the early to mid 2nd century reflected increasing austerity and interest in the Greeks. The portraiture of Nerva and Trajan displayed a militaristic look whilst Hadrian changed Roman portrait style to reflect Greek styles. This style was kept by his successors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. Imperial women set the style and fashion for elite hair styles. The styles of Trajan’s wife Plotina and his niece Matidia demonstrate a simplified abstract vertical form based on the earlier curly, extravagant Flavian style. Both Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius’ wives chose to follow their respective husband’s choice of style, and are depicted with hairstyles that derive from Greece. (Source: Boundless: The Nervan-Antonines)
- Nerva (ruled 96 – 98 A.D.)
- Empress Plotina, wife of Trajan
- Hadrian (ruled 117 – 138 A.D.)
- Empress Sabina, wife of Hadrian
- Antinous, favorite of Hadrian
- Antoninus Pius (ruled 138 – 161 A.D.)
- Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161 – 180 A.D.)
- Empress Faustina the Younger, wife of Marcus Aurelius
- Lucius Verus (ruled 161 – 169 A.D.)
- Commodus (ruled 177 – 192 A.D.)
- Lucilla, daughter of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Younger
- Empress Crispina, wife of Commodus
There is also a statue of Trajan portrayed as Hercules on display in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. However the statue is currently on loan to the Apotheosis exhibition inside Castel Sant’Angelo (Hadrian’s Mausoleum). It was also on show at the 2012 Roma Caput Mundi exhibition inside the Colosseum where this photo was taken.
Many more portraits of the Nervan-Antonines can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.