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Lecture: Regional perspectives on Roman women’s portrait busts


Helen Ackers, University of Oxford


5 April 2016 at 16:00-17:00


Antikmuseet, Victor Albecks Vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C


This purpose of this talk will be to present some of the findings from my doctorate research on Roman women’s portrait busts of the third century AD. The commemorative tradition of the free-standing, Roman portrait bust and the durability of this format, which could be displayed and utilised in a large range of different contexts, made this an important portrait genre for women. At a time when portraits, especially in public spaces, were gradually declining the bust format retained its high-status associations and continued to function as a vessel for cosmopolitan fashions and ideals around empire. This consequently forms a discrete historical category through which to trace developments in third-century women’s portraiture. In this talk I will concentrate on the wider influence of the ‘bust format’ across empire and the adaption of this to suit regional cultures and contexts. The primary focus of this discussion will be a number of case-studies from the Greek East and Asia and evidence for the reception and response of the bust format in these areas. I will consider how display context affected bust format choice and the relationship of this ‘metropolitan’ format to alternative local relief bust traditions.

Please be on time, as the doors to the museum will close when the lecture starts.

There will be a stand-up reception after each lecture at the foywer.
The Palmyra Portrait Project is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation and Aarhus University.

For further information, please contact Rubina Raja (rubina.raja@cas.au.dk).