A Roman marble portrait bust of Gaius Caesar is one of the top items in Bonhams Antiquities sale on 23 October in London, estimated to sell for £120,000 to £150,000.
Gaius Caesar (20 B.C. -A.D. 4) and his brother Lucius Caesar (17 B.C. - A.D. 2) were the sons of the Emperor Augustus' only child Julia and his close confidant Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. With no sons of his own, the Emperor adopted them in 17 B.C. and they were intended as Augustus' successors. However both these grandsons died young, predeceasing Augustus who died in A.D. 14.
Gaius Caesar died aged just twenty-three in A.D. 4 and during his short life Gaius and his younger brother played extremely important roles in Augustus' political and dynastic plans. Official images of Augustus's grandsons were produced from their childhood and these were deliberately calculated to depict the princes as miniature versions of their illustrious grandfather.
One of a small group of such portraits, the bust being sold by Bonhams, depicts Gaius with his head turned to the right, with finely carved wavy hair falling over the forehead, long sideburns and a short beard. It is thought that Gaius' sideburns and beard have a military connection, associated with the god of war Ares/Mars and that this bust was made to commemorate Gaius' military success in A.D. 3 at the fall of Artagira in Armenia, where he tragically suffered the wound which was to eventually kill him, aged just twenty-three, only two years after the death of his younger brother.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
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