This important marble bust represents a deified Julius Caesar. This type of Baroque figure is a remarkable example of the willingness of Venetian artists to go against the general trend of the late Renaissance to exaggerate perfection. This type of Baroque figure is a remarkable example of the willingness of Venetian artists to go against the general trend of the late Renaissance to exaggerate perfection. Caesar is certainly represented with a face with powerful features surmounted by a laurel wreath, symbol of his triumph and grandeur. However, the characteristics that dominate the representation of the imperator, already mature, are his wisdom and his immortal glory. The artist makes a point of studying the physiognomy of his glorious model. As much as an artistic piece of great quality, it is possible to recognize in this work a psychological study attempting to retranscribe the personality of Caesar.

A great power emanates from this divinized portrait, the movement is dynamic and energetic. The sculptor’s execution is refined and highly detailed, especially for the representation of the cuirass, remarkably worked, and the draped toga with deep folds, as well as for all the features of his face. Indeed, his cheeks are hollowed out, emphasizing prominent cheekbones and his forehead is carefully wrinkled. In addition, his neck has veins, which increase the sense of deep tension also expressed by his large jaw. It is a piece of great quality that can be compared to the works of Orazio Marinali. A major Venetian Baroque artist of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, he was trained by the Flemish Giusto Le Court (also known as Josse le Court), who was active in Venice from 1657.

Allegory of the winter, Orazio Marinali (circle of)

Allegory of Poesia Epica, Orazio Marinali.

During the reign of Frederick II Gonzaga, the ducal palace of Mantua housed many pagan deities, heroes and Roman emperors. These representations show an interest in myths, works and illustrious men, who for the 16th century constitute ethical models. In the gambinetto, a room located in the apartment di Troia, Frederic II commissioned Titian in 1536 to paint eleven portraits of emperors. Accompanied by the workshop of Guilio Romano, the realization of the decorations began in July 1536 and ended in January 1540. Today only the stucco frames and niches remain, as well as copies of Bernardino Campi’s portraits of emperors, the originals having disappeared in Spain in the Alcazar fire in 1734.

In this half-body representation of Julius Caesar crowned with laurel, Titian takes his model from ancient busts and marbles. The face with marked features as well as the prominent and imposing body are similar to the characteristics of our marble bust.

Aegidius Sadeler II (after Titian), Julius Caesar, ca. 1585-1629 (1536-1540), engraving,
34,7 x 21,8 cm. London, British Museum. [© Trustees of the British Museum]

Marble bust of Caesar – Venetian Baroque – 17th century

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