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BM Statue query


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I am in the process of going through the various photos I have taken on my barious trips to the British Museum over the last couple of years. I have one photo of a statue that has made me pause. Here is the British Museum description.

"Marble portrait statue of the emperor Septimius Severus in military dress. He is shown with his characteristic forked beard and tight curled hair, and is wearing military dress. The statue is not carved fully in the round, but is flat and unfinished at the back, suggesting that it was part of an architectural design.


Taken from the French at the Capitulation of Alexandria, 1801, and sent to the Museum by order of His Majesty[King George III]."

Here is my image of the statue.


My issue is that this screams to me of being Clodius Albinus and not Spetimius Severus.

I have looked at the Capotiline example of Clodius Albinus (below - not my image) and this has reenforced my view.


Have I gone barking mad?

Edited by maridvnvm
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  • maridvnvm changed the title to BM Statue query
59 minutes ago, maridvnvm said:

Have I gone barking mad?

They are usually quite open to queries, and it would be fantastic  if you can give them better information. JD Hill heads up research still I think.

Or here- bmresearch@britishmuseum.org

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Yes, the BM is certainly less than foolproof in their attributions.  There's this example among their Ife royal portrait sculpture, which is all dated (?) 14th-15th century.  This corresponds to the range given by every overview of African art I've ever seen, going back to the 1970s.  But this entry even makes reference to the archaeological context.


Then there's this book, going back to 1989, citing comparable archaeological evidence, but this time dating the Ife sculpture (both brass and terra cotta) with this level of naturalism to c. 1000-1200.  On the basis of, Oops, radiocarbon dating.  (See esp. pp. 46 and 61.)


Bizarrely, the bibliography includes studies as recent as 2010.  Although mention is made of previous attributions which were even more aggregious, I have to wonder if some people just couldn't handle the idea of this stuff being that much earlier than the Renaissance. 


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14 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

If it came from Alexandria, it is likely there would be a statue of Clodius Albinus there?

I had the same thought, but I found this piece on Wiki:

"Showing a disposition for military life, he entered the army when very young and served with distinction, especially in 175 during the rebellion of Avidius Cassius against Emperor Marcus Aurelius. His merit was acknowledged by the Emperor in two letters in which he calls Albinus an African, who resembled his countrymen but little, and who was praiseworthy for his military experience and the gravity of his character. "

Cassius revolted in the East, hence the statue could have been present there a) because he was African and b) because he helped put down Cassius' revolt.

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Found/Acquired: Alexandria (Egypt)
Africa: Egypt: Iskandariya, el- (Governorate): Alexandria (Egypt)
Curator's comments
Ein Gott 215, no. 43, p. 52.

Bibliographic references
Sculpture / Catalogue of Greek Sculpture in the British Museum (1944)
Fluck et al. 2015 / Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs (p.50)

Interesting fact: In 1992, The bulk of the chewing gum (vandalism) was removed with a scalpel, the residual was removed with Butanone MEK on cotton wool swabs...
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Yes to Albinus.  During the time when Alexandria was most active making coins, neither had the three prong beard which I can't say is present here anyway.  I do have a few of the Alexandrian denarii which are hardly rare but more scarce than those of Septimius.  I alway found it interesting how differently they ovberse legends were split.rd0080bb1043.jpg.15ebc84fb70e560cf8c95e5fdf7397f2.jpgrd0090bb1378.jpg.b6f40246c3b21f91957cafded4a67888.jpgrd0100bb1335.jpg.1749d64ee747a73ace50feeec25b68d4.jpgrd0110bb1491.jpg.c4f06535cbfe96d2696f059adde28b90.jpg


It has no place here but I am not inclined to pass up any opportunity to post the twin portrait SS/CA even if it is Pautalia rather than Alexandria.  Albinus was well known and popular enough that Septimius saw fit to make him Caesar and not fight him until the Pescennius Niger situation had been resolved.  



Pautalia also issued much more common coins for Albinus alone. pd0365rp1596.jpg.e4301f92f12b277db114edad29bb752a.jpg

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Very interesting @maridvnvm  For what it's worth, I think it looks more like Albinus as well.  

A lesser-known portrait of him can be found at the Indiana University Museum of Art (they have a fantastic pair of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna as well).  Last time I was there I took photos, but Albinus came out blurry.  My post on these is here:  

The IU Art Museum wouldn't let me copy the photo from their collection of Albinus, but here's a link - he looks a lot like the OP, I think. 





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