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Bust of an unknown man, so-called Cicero

Roman art

First century A.D.
First Corridor (A2)
White marble
40 cm (height)
1914 n. 393

This sculpture was found in Rome in the early 17th century, during building work on the church of Sant’Ignazio. It was first given to Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi for his economic support of the work, but then sold to Leopoldo de’ Medici in 1669. The nose, part of the ears and the bust have all been restored. Due to imperfections on the left cheek, the subject was first thought to be the great Roman orator, Cicero (famous for a large chickpea-shaped growth, actually said to have been on his nose). The true identity of the subject is indeed unknown, with suggestions including Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, one of Pompey’s most ardent supporters, Gaius Cassius Longinus, one of the men behind the plot to kill Caesar, Titus Pomponius Atticus, friend of Cicero and supporter of Anthony, and even the writer Varro, scholar, philologist and author of over 150 books. All we know for certain is that the portrait, known from various copies dating to the first century A.D., is that it represents an important figure from the late republican period (146-31 B.C.).



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