Private Collection (New York, New York) [sold, Sotheby's, New York, June 6, 1994, lot 112, to Daniel Katz Ltd.]
Daniel Katz Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.
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Currently on view at: Getty Center, Museum West Pavilion, Gallery W101
Bust of Emperor Caracalla
Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (Italian, 1716/1717 - 1799)
Rome, Italy (Place Created)
71 cm, 53.978 kg (27 15/16 in., 119 lb.)
Caracalla (born 188, reigned A.D. 211-217), one of the bold and brutal Roman emperors who ruled in the early 200s A.D., murdered his brother in his ascent to power and later was himself assassinated. In this marble bust, he wears a soldier's cuirass and toga. Turning his head to the left, he focuses on something that apparently does not meet with his approval. He flares his nostrils and furrows his brow, movements perhaps intended to suggest his ferociousness.
In the 1700s, Caracalla's likeness was known from a bust in the Farnese collection in Rome and then Naples, believed to date from the 200s. Sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi drew on this famous prototype for his marble bust of Caracalla. Carved during a period in which collectors bought sculptures all'antica, this bust was probably intended for an English collector's Neoclassical gallery.
Cavaceppi was best known for his restorations of antique sculpture rather than for his rare original works, such as this one. He demonstrated his familiarity with classicism through his skillful drillwork in the antique manner, seen in the handling of Caracalla's beard and hair. This bust is one of Cavaceppi's rare signed works.
Sotheby's Art at Auction: The Art Market Review, 1993-94 (London, 1994), p. 194.
"Acquisitions/1994." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 23 (1995), p. 121, no. 100.
Sotheby's, London. Sale catalogue. December 7, 1995, under lot 96.
Bassett, Jane, and Peggy Fogelman. Looking at European Sculpture: A Guide to Technical Terms (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 25.
Bowron, E. Peters, and J.J. Rishel, eds. Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art; Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2000), p. 241, no. 119, entry by Peggy Fogelman.
Faroult, Guillaume, Christophe Leribault, and Guilhem Scherf, eds. Antiquity Revived: Neoclassical Art in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du Louvre with Gallimard, 2011), p. 41, no. 3, ill., entry by Edgar Peters Bowron.