Augustus Bevilacqua

Roman

replica: the Louvre, Paris

gift of: Friends of the Museum

date of the original: early 1st century CE

provenance of the original: Bevilacqua Palace, Verona

description: The Augustus Bevilacqua gets its name from the Bevilacqua Palace in Verona where it was housed until 1811 when it was purchased by King Ludwig I and moved to the Glyptothek in Munich where it currently resides. The original version of this replica bust is thought to be one of many copies that were disseminated throughout the Roman Empire during Augustus’ reign as emperor.  

In this portrait, the wreath Augustus is wearing is called the corona civica, or ‘civic crown’, which is a crown made of oak leaves.  The oak tree was sacred to the god Jupiter. The corona civica was the second highest military decoration in Rome and was given to a Roman citizen who had saved the life of another Roman citizen or had held ground against the enemy in battle.  Augustus was awarded the crown in 27 BCE, not in recognition of having saved one citizen of Rome, but for saving all the citizens of Rome through his defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE. His victory brought decades of civil war to an end.

In recognition of Augustus’ victories and the resulting peace, the Senate of Rome also commissioned the building of the Ara Pacis Augustae, or ‘Altar of Augustan Peace’, which was dedicated in 9 BCE. A panel from the Ara Pacis Augustae, which depicts a procession of Imperial family members, is also a part of the Museum’s collection.

Augustus ruled from 27 BCE until his death in 14 CE. The year 2014 marks not only the 40th Anniversary of the Museum of Antiquities, but also the 2,000th anniversary of Augustus’ death. The Augustus Bevilacqua was acquired from l’Atelier de moulage du Musée du Louvre in Paris, France to commemorate the Museum of Antiquities’ 40th Anniversary. The purchase of this bust was made possible through the kind donations of many supporters of the Museum. The acquisition of this bust fills a noticeable void in the Museum’s collection of portraits of Roman emperors.  Museum visitors can now look upon the face of one of the most famous and historically significant emperors from ancient Rome.