The work, of great historical importance, has been acquired for the state collections for 250,000 euros.
The Ministry of Culture and Sport has acquired the head of Augustus, a marble portrait of the first Roman emperor, found in the 16th century at the archaeological site of the ancient Roman city of Pollentia, located in Alcúdia (Mallorca). The piece, purchased for 250,000 euros, has been assigned to the Museum of Mallorca, a state museum whose staff has been transferred to the Government of the Balearic Islands and its management to the Consell de Mallorca.
From the 18th century to the present day, the work has formed part of the collection of the Marquis of Campofranco and has been kept in the Casal de Can Pueyo in Palma. In 2015 it was declared an asset of cultural interest. This acquisition represents a notable enrichment of the Spanish public collections due to the importance of the work and, in particular, those of the Museum of Mallorca, where the work will soon be exhibited. The State thus incorporates an important legacy of the Roman presence in the Mediterranean, and specifically in the Balearic Islands, into the state collections.
The veiled head was painted in 30-20 BC and is considered to be one of the most important portraits of Augustus at the beginning of his political activity. At this time he had just defeated Mark Antony and his ally Cleopatra at the battle of Actium in 31 BC and was beginning a new era as emperor.
This type of portrait combines iconography that exalts the emperor’s energy and heroism with the civic and religious values represented by the veil, in order to highlight the pacifying and culturally cohesive nature of the Empire.
The face shows a restless and energetic expression, and it is clear from its size and some of the assemblage elements that, although it was worked separately, it was fitted into a life-size body to form a complete robed imperial statue.
The sculpture, which was located in a public place in the city of Pollentia, had a markedly official character and bears witness to the rapid adherence of the Hispanics to the new Roman political regime.