Exceptional Italian Carved Marble Bust of the Roman Philosopher and Statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE-43 BCE)
19th century, various marbles and stone including Cararra, griotte rouge, and Sienna marble and striated onyx, presented on a later marble columnar plitnth.
h. 38", w. 25", d. 14"; with plinth overall h. 73"
Provenance: M. S. Rau, New Orleans, Louisiana; Private collection.
Other Notes: In the 19th century, representations of ancient Roman dignitaries were highly desired as symbols of wealth, prestige and worldliness. Often acquired during the "Grand Tour", the European excursion undertaken by the upper-classes as a rite of passage, these works were prominently displayed in places of honor.
The fine example presented here is somewhat unusual in its slightly larger-than-life size, the deep carving, and, especially, the variety and richness of the marbles used. Though unsigned, it is clearly by the hand of a master trained in the Italian sculpture workshops. These artists and artisans were internationally admired for their ability to work in the unforgiving and daunting media of marble and stone. This is evident in the deep modeling of the features of this bust, creating the deep shadowed furrows which suggest intense thought and concentration.
Cicero, the subject of this bust, was considered one of the greatest orators of the ancient world.