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Roman Imperial Portraits

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  Photos by William Storage
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The Getty Commodus, acquired from Castle Howard in 1992, has long been thought to be a work of the Renaissance. In A 2006 conference on the piece, however, a panel of Roman sculpture experts, including Klaus Fittschen, CÚcile Evers, and our good friend Chris Hallett unanimously judged it ancient, against the Getty Museum's categorization as a 16th century imitation. While still housed in the "modern" collection, the Getty Museum's placard now acknowledges that many scholars believe it to be ancient. If it is, the Getty has accidentally purchased what may be the finest work of sculpture surviving from ancient Rome. A close look with a magnifying glass (see photos at end of this series) reveals that the surface was polished at least twice, with surface scratches, cracks and other damage occurring in between. I'm unsure whether this fact was a factor in the judgment by the panel.

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