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Giant head of Titus


Gallerie d'Italia - Naples


From February 23, 2024


The monumental entrance hall of the Gallerie d'Italia in Naples cyclically hosts a work of particular value from both the Intesa Sanpaolo art collections and from important Italian and foreign museums within a relationship of exchange and  sharing.

The giant head of Titus, owned by the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, was found in Rome in 1872, during the work on the foundations of the Ministry of Finance, on the corner of Via XX Settembre and Via Pastrengo. Titus was emperor from 24 June 79 AD to 13 September 81 AD, succeeding his father Vespasian.

Despite the desire to create an ideal effigy, a customary practice for godlike emperors, the sculpture retains a strong physiognomic characterisation with a studied contrast between the liveliness of the wavy curls and the smooth, patinated surfaces of the face, the rounded appearance of which is accentuated by the marked double chin and broad forehead.

This peculiarity suggests that the sculpture was made after the reign of Titus,  in the time of his brother Domitian, and leads to the assumption that the statue belonged to the Templum gentis Flaviae, a temple and mausoleum on the Quirinal Hill where members of the imperial family were buried, shifting its dating to around 95 AD.