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Article

Agrippa  

Luca Leoncini

revised by Gordon Campbell

(Marcus Vipsanius)

(b 64 or 63 bc; d Campania, March 12 bc).

Roman military leader and patron. He was a faithful friend and supporter of Octavian (later Augustus, reg 27 bcad 14), whose daughter Julia he married in 21 bc. As admiral of Octavian’s navy he won the decisive sea battle of Actium against Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 31 bc. As aedile in 33 bc Agrippa began a programme of grandiose and sensible public works for Rome, of which little survives. It combined much-needed improvements to the urban infrastructure with architecture on a grand scale. Leaving the ancient centre intact, he built a monumental quarter in the Campus Martius, following a plan originally conceived by Julius Caesar. Reserving an area for military exercises (the Campus Agrippae), he completely reclaimed the area with an extensive network of sewers, created a vast bathing pool (the Stagnum Agrippae), and in 26 bc completed the Saepta Julia, an enclosure with marble porticos (1.6 km long) along the first part of the Via Flaminia. He also built a ...

Article

L. James

(b ?Constantinople, c. ad 461–3; d Constantinople, c. 527–9). Byzantine patron. As the great-granddaughter of Galla Placidia and daughter of Flavius Anicius Olybrius (Emperor of the West, reg 472) she was the last major figure of the Theodosian house. In 512, during a popular uprising against Emperor Anastasius I (reg 491–518), the imperial crown was pressed on her husband Flavius Areobindus Dagalaifus, an honour he avoided by flight. Her imperial connections and social standing gave her an important status at court and she was an active patron. She is chiefly remembered for the Dioskurides codex (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., med. gr. 1), which was produced in Constantinople c. 512 (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §I, 2, (ii)). The inscription around her portrait (fol. 6v) indicates that the manuscript was commissioned for her by the people of Onoratou, a suburb of Constantinople, in gratitude for a church she built for them....

Article

Thorsten Opper

Source of a group of Roman and Greek works of art, in particular a group of Greek bronze sculptures and statuettes. In 1900 sponge-divers discovered the remains of an ancient shipwreck in the sea off the Greek island of Antikythera. In one of the first operations of this kind, they salvaged some its cargo. A new investigation of the wreck site took place in 1976 and succeeded in recovering many further objects, as well as (still unpublished) remains of the hull. All the finds are now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The ship, which must have foundered in the second quarter of the 1st century bc, carried a mixed cargo of ‘antique’ and contemporary bronze and marble statuary, as well as luxury products such as bronze furniture attachments, rare and expensive types of glass, gold ingots etc. It also contained the so-called Antikythera Mechanism, an elaborate type of astrolabe....

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Susan Walker

revised by Gordon Campbell

[Lucius Vibullius Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes]

(b Athens, ad 103; d Athens, ad 177).

Teacher, writer, politician and patron. He was born into a family long distinguished for its services to Athens. A sophist, Herodes also followed a Roman career, serving in ad 134–5 as financial officer for the province of Asia. He overspent the budget for a new aqueduct for the city of Alexandria Troas, displeasing the Emperor Hadrian (reg ad 117–38). In ad 139–40 Herodes directed the Panathenaic festival in Athens. He commissioned a mechanical ship to carry Athena’s robe to the Acropolis; the ship was later conserved above the stadium at Ardettos, rebuilt by Herodes to seat 50,000 spectators. The stadium at Delphi was replated with marble, and Herodes gave an aqueduct and fountain decorated with family and imperial portraits to the Panhellenic sanctuary at Olympia (see Olympia §1). He also gave fine statues at Isthmia and Corinth, where he is said to have rebuilt the theatre. Herodes married a member of the Roman high aristocracy, Appia Annia Regilla, and became consul ordinarius in ...

Article

Jeremy J. Tanner

[Octavian ; Gaius Octavius ; Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus]

(b Rome, Sept 23, 63 bc; reg 27 bcad 14; d Nola, 19 Aug ad 14).

Roman emperor and patron. When Gaius Octavius was named the heir of Julius Caesar (assassinated 44 bc), he was a politically unknown 18 year old. Early portrait types presented him bearded, as a sign of mourning for his adoptive father, thereby reinforcing his claim to be Caesar’s rightful successor. Octavian’s most important programme of artistic patronage, however, followed his assumption in 27 bc of the title ‘Augustus’ (Lat.: ‘venerable’) and with it effective monarchic power. Artistic patronage was a vehicle by which Augustus sought to legitimate his new position in terms of traditional Roman values. He rebuilt 82 temples in order to demonstrate his piety and to restore the pax deorum (‘peace of the gods’) disrupted by the civil wars of the late Republic (see Rome, ancient, §II, 2, (i), (b)). New building in the Forum Romanum (see Rome, §V, 1) allowed him to redefine civic space in order to display his exceptional power. A temple of his deified father, Julius Caesar, dominated the eastern end of the forum. Two triumphal arches celebrating Augustus’ victories at Actium and against the Parthians flanked the temple and formed the entrance to the forum....

Article

Luca Leoncini

[before adoption, Marcus Annius Verus; as emperor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus]

(b Rome, 26 April ad 121; reg ad 161–80; d Vienna, 17 March ad 180).

Roman emperor and patron who, in contrast to the long and pacific reign of his predecessor Antoninus Pius, had to deal with natural disasters, rebellions and attacks by the subject peoples of the Empire. One of the few surviving monuments from his reign is the base of the Column of Antoninus Pius near the Ustrinum in the Campus Martius, which was discovered in 1703 (c. ad 161; Rome, Vatican, Cortile Pigna; see Rome, ancient, §IV, 2, (vii)). A fragment of the column containing an inscription also survives. On the base is represented the apotheosis of the emperor Antoninus Pius, transported to heaven along with his wife Faustina by a winged Genius, while the goddess Roma and the Genius of the Campus Martius look on; the opposite side depicts a decursio (military parade). A triumphal arch dedicated to Marcus Aurelius was built by the senate; this structure may originally have contained both the reliefs that were later reused in the Arch of Constantine (...

Article

[Greco-Bactrians; Indo-Greeks]

A number of Hellenistic kingships that ruled portions of Afghanistan, Central Asia and India in the last three centuries bc. In ancient times the region of Bactria was bounded on the north by the Oxus and on the south-east by the Hindu Kush mountains. The western frontier remained ill-defined and in constant flux. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 bc, Bactria and adjoining Sogdiana were controlled by the Seleucids until c. 250 bc, when the governor Diodotus asserted independence. A large body of coins, Hellenistic in style and iconography and with Greek legends, was minted by the Greco-Bactrian rulers. This style of coinage, but with bilingual Greek and Kharoshthi legends, continued into the Kushana period (1st to 3rd century ad). With the exception of Ai Khanum, a Greek-style city, few remains of the Greeks in Bactria have yet been uncovered. Control of Sogdiana was lost to the local kings in the late ...

Article

Balbus  

Thorsten Opper

(Marcus Nonius)

(fl 1st century bc).

Roman patron and statesman. A wealthy Roman benefactor, supporter of Octavian (the later emperor Augustus) and patron of the city of Herculaneum [now Ercolano; formerly Resina], Balbus was a native of Nuceria Alfaterna in Campania, and embarked on a successful senatorial career, serving as Tribune of the People (32 bc), and Praetor and Proconsul of the double province of Crete and Cyrenaica. He chose to live in Herculaneum and lavished benefactions on the town, financing a complete rebuilding of the basilica, town gates and walls. In return, Balbus was appointed the patron (official representative) of the town and received countless honours, among them numerous portrait statues (ten are currently attested in the epigraphic record; five statues have survived). Through their range of media and statuary types, and with their associated base inscriptions, these provide an exemplary insight into the Roman system of portrait honours. Two marble equestrian statues, dedicated by the People of Nuceria and Herculaneum respectively (Naples, Mus. Archeol. N., inv. 6211 and 6104), were discovered in ...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

Luca Leoncini

(b Rome, 102 bc; d Rome, 44 bc).

Roman dictator, general and patron. After defeating Pompey and his followers in the Civil War he was named dictator (reg 49–44 bc), but was assassinated by conspirators. Caesar renovated the centre of Rome with important works in the Forum Romanum, for example the Basilica Julia, begun in 54 bc and opened, still incomplete, eight years later. His most important building project, however, was the construction of the Forum Julium (see Rome, §V, 2), conceived as an extension of the Forum Romanum and as a model of urban renewal for the old parts of the town centre. It established the pattern for the later Imperial Fora. The rectangular, porticoed court of the forum had shops on the north-east and south-west sides. In the centre of the short north-west side a temple was erected to Venus Genetrix, the patroness of the gens Julia, whose cult statue was by the sculptor ...

Article

Cicero  

Valerie Hutchinson Pennanen

(Marcus Tullius)

(b Arpinum [now Arpino, nr Frosinone], Jan 3, 106 bc; d Formiae [now Formia, Campagna], Dec 7, 43 bc).

Roman orator, statesman, philosopher and patron. His reverence for the past was reflected in both his public and private life. Having studied in Greece and apparently read at least one treatise on Greek art (see Brutus xviii.70), he was familiar with the work of the greatest Greek artists and alluded to Myron, Polykleitos, Pheidias, Lysippos, Apelles and to Greek art in general throughout his writings. That he was an avid collector is revealed by his Letters to Atticus, through whom he bought numerous sculptures for his villa at Tusculum. Fondness for Greek art is also reflected in his choice of similes, so that he compared Caesar’s straightforward prose with ‘nude, well-proportioned’ statues (Brutus lxxv.262), strong-souled men with rust-proof Corinthian bronzes (Tusculan Disputations IV.xiv.32) and man’s acquisition of wisdom with Pheidias’ ability to perfect a statue (On the Ends of Good and Evil IV.xiii.34). His admiration for Greek art is further evident in his impassioned speech ...

Article

Luca Leoncini

[Titus Claudius Nero Drusus Germanicus]

(b Lyon, 10 bc; reg ad 41–54; d Rome, ad 54). Roman emperor and patron, whose life until he succeeded Caligula at the age of 50 had been dedicated to historical studies, being excluded from all public duties by Augustus and Tiberius. Claudius brought the Aqua Claudia and the Anio Novus aqueducts to Rome, two mighty works that had been initiated by Caligula. Their channels were carried across the Via Labicana and Via Praenestina by the Porta Maggiore (completed ad 52; see Rome, ancient, §II, 2, (i), (c), and fig.), a highly rusticated double archway of travertine that still stands today. In rebuilding the stretch of the Aqua Virgo in regions VII and IX, an arch crossing the Via Flaminia was erected (ad 46; destr.) to commemorate the triumph over Britain; it too was of rusticated travertine. The subterranean basilica with rich stucco decorations (see Rome, ancient, §VII...

Article

T. P. Wiseman

(b c. 95 bc; d Euboia, Greece, 48 bc).

Roman aristocrat, politician and patron. Active during the late Republic, he was consul in 54 bc, when he was involved in a notorious bribery scandal, and censor in 50 bc. Arrogant and overbearing, he was a byword for shameless effrontery (Cicero: ad Fam. V.x.2). As censor he took a strict line on luxury, provoking the irony of Cicero’s correspondent Caelius: ‘Get here as soon as you can to laugh at our frolics…Appius taking official action about works of art!’ (Cicero: ad Fam. VIII.xiv.4). Appius had a fine collection of his own, looted from Greece ten years earlier; one marble statue, allegedly from a tomb outside Tanagra, was used by his brother Publius, the radical tribune who got Cicero sent into exile, as the cult image in the shrine to Liberty erected on the site of the orator’s confiscated house (Cicero: On my House cxi–cxii). Appius was evidently a friend of King Antiochos I, who built the grandiose mountain-top monument on Nemrut Dagi (Cicero: ...

Article

Charles Murray

[Flavius Valerius Constantinus]

(b Naïssus [now Nish, Serbia], c. ad 285; reg 306–37; d Constantinople, 337).

Roman emperor and patron. He was the son of Constantius Chlorus (reg 293–306) and Helena (c. 248/9–328/9) and succeeded his father as Co-Emperor in ad 306. Six years later he defeated his rival Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge outside Rome and became sole ruler in the West. In 313, with Licinius (reg 307–24), the Eastern Emperor, he published the Edict of Milan, which openly favoured Christianity. He defeated Licinius at the Battle of Chrysopolis in 324 and united the Empire under his control. Artistic and literary sources during his reign show an imperial policy dominated by the newly authorized religion, and new artistic values gradually transformed public art into a more fully recognizable Christian form. He believed that his military successes were attributable to the Christian God, whose sign of the Cross had appeared to him, superimposed on the sun, at the Milvian Bridge. In the final battle he ordered the monogram of Christ to be painted on his soldiers’ shields, thus establishing the cross and the chi-rho in later iconography. His victory was commemorated in 315 with the construction of a triumphal arch in the Roman Forum....

Article

Kim Richardson

[Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus]

(b Dalmatia, 22 Dec ad ?244; reg ad 284–305; d ?3 Dec ad 311). Roman emperor and patron. In order to strengthen Imperial control at a time of extreme danger to the Roman world, Diocletian created the Tetrarchy in ad 293, a four-man system under which two Caesars were appointed: one served under Diocletian, the Augustus in the East, the other under Maximian, the Augustus in the West. The whole was held together only by the personality and authority of Diocletian himself, so that by the time of his death the Empire was once again beset by civil wars; his division of the Empire, however, and many of his administrative reforms lasted for much longer. The impersonal cult image of the emperors, in which one Augustus is indistinguishable from the other, symbolized the solidarity of Tetrarchic rule and laid the foundation for the Imperial style of the 4th century ...

Article

Luca Leoncini

[Titus Flavius Domitianus]

(b Rome, 24 Oct ad 51; reg ad 81–96; d Rome, 18 Sept ad 96).

Roman emperor and patron, the second son of Vespasian and the brother of Titus, his predecessor. He began the Romanization of Britain and improved the organization of the border provinces. He tried to establish an absolute monarchy but was killed in a plot organized by members of his own family. A great movement for urban renewal took place in his reign. The monumental area of the Campus Martius, badly damaged by a fire in ad 80, was rebuilt and enlarged with the erection of the Porticus Divorum (a portico containing two small temples dedicated to the deified Vespasian and Titus). The odeum was built, as well as the stadium for the Ludi Capitolini, called the Circus Agonalis or Stadium Domitiani (before ad 86); it is now the Piazza Navona. The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitol was rebuilt, that of the Deified Vespasian completed (and Titus added to its dedication), and that of the Dii Consentes erected in the Forum Romanum. The Palatine was totally reconstructed, and a large part of it became the Flavian Palace (...

Article

Gupta  

Michael D. Willis

Dynasty that ruled most of northern India from the mid-4th century to the late 5th century ad. The Gupta dynasty had its origin in eastern India and first appeared as a significant power under Chandragupta I (reg c. 319–35). He probably established the Gupta era, a calendar that began in ad 319–20 and was used until the 7th century. The Guptas conquered the greater part of northern India during the reigns of Samudragupta (reg c. 335–76) and Chandragupta II (reg c. 380–415). The high-point of Gupta power is often placed in the long reign of Kumaragupta I (reg c. 415–55). By the third quarter of the 5th century, the Gupta realm was beginning to crumble. Considerable instability is suggested by the near simultaneous appearance of Govindagupta, Purugupta and Kumaragupta II between 467 and 477. Budhagupta (reg c. 477–500) checked the decline of the house, but he was the last of the ‘imperial Guptas’, and after his death most of northern India was overrun by the Huna people. A Varaha image at ...

Article

(b Italica, Spain, 24 Jan ad 76; reg 117–38; d Baiae, 10 July ad 138).

Roman emperor and patron. After the death in Spain of his father, he was taken to Rome to be brought up by his grandfather’s cousin, the future emperor Trajan, under whose patronage his career prospered. He gained his first military experience in ad 95 under Domitian, and during Trajan’s second Dacian campaign (ad 105–6) he commanded a legion. To strengthen his ties to the imperial family, he was married in ad 100 to Vibia Sabina, a niece of Trajan’s wife, Plotina. He became consul for the first time in ad 108, was governor of Syria c. ad 114 and accompanied Trajan on his Parthian expedition (ad 113–17). The story that Hadrian had been adopted by Trajan on his deathbed was said to have been invented by Plotina, but on his succession Hadrian swiftly consolidated his position by executing four of his most resolute opponents, putting on magnificent displays, distributing largesse and cancelling debts. He skilfully overhauled the imperial bureaucracy, creating a new civil service staffed by Roman knights to implement legal and financial reforms. Throughout his reign he travelled widely, reorganizing the administration of the provinces on the basis of first-hand experience. On his accession, the Roman Empire was at its greatest extent, but to create a safer frontier he abandoned the recently annexed territories beyond the Tigris and Euphrates and redefined the boundaries of other provinces, establishing strong lines of fortifications in Germany, Africa and northern Britain....

Article

Carol Michaelson

Chinese dynasty dating to 206 bcad 220. Following the fall of the Qin dynasty in 221 bc, there was civil war until Liu Bang, posthumously known as Gaodi (reg 206–195 bc), became the first Han emperor. The Han was one of the golden ages in China’s cultural history, during which the basic framework of Chinese civilization was established.

The early period was one of consolidation of Qin laws and institutions in order to make China a unified and strong empire. The Western Han capital of Chang’an, a model of city planning with a grid street system, was sited south of the Wei River, a few kilometres north-west of modern Xi’an in Shaanxi Province (for illustration see Xi’an). The palace area occupied about two-thirds of the city area. Tomb models and textual evidence suggest the appearance of the various palaces built by Gaodi and later emperors. The imperial mausolea of ...