Tuesday, October 29, 2019


THIS larger-than-life-size Roman sculpture of the Emperor Hadrian sold at auction at Christie's in New York today for $5,950,000.

Known as the Cobham Hall Hadrian, the statue has been called "one of the finest ancient statues from the Grand Tour era of collecting" and has been consigned to Christie's by British investment manager Christian Levett.

Dating from the 2nd Century AD, the 6ft 10in (2.08m) high marble statue met its estimated value of $6 million when it was offered at Christie’s New York on October 29.

It was the first full-length Classical statue of a Roman emperor to appear at auction since the work had been bought by Levett for $902,500 (£609,840) including premium at Christie’s New York in December 2008.

The statue is thought to date from the reign of Hadrian (117-138AD) but it underwent some typical 18th century restoration to "complete" the statue.

The head, however, is deemed certainly antique in part due to its extraordinary physiognomic detail which includes a diagonal crease in his preserved left earlobe – a symptom of the subject’s coronary artery disease which was generally not recognised by later copyists.

Hadrian is depicted standing in "chiastic" pose with his weight on his right leg, his left leg bent at the knee and drawn back and his right arm raised – a stance that recalls the work of the earlier 5th Century BC Greek sculptor Polykleitos.

Levett has amassed one of the world’s most important private collections of antiquities and in 2011 opened his own museum, the Musée d'Art Classique de Mougins, in southern France to house part of it, including this statue.

The Cobham Hall Hadrian is now being sold to benefit the museum.

Christie's international department head of antiquities G Max Bernheimer said: "This masterpiece has incomparable provenance and represents an opportunity to not only own an important work of art but also to help fund the future of a truly remarkable institution."

The work holds a distinguished provenance, being formerly in the Villa Montalto-Negroni-Massimi in Rome before it was acquired in the 18th century by John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley (1767-1833) for his home, Cobham Hall in Kent.

It remained there until it was sold by the Darnley estate at Sotheby’s in London in 1957, where it was acquired by the New Orleans dealer J Wilson Raker, who sold it to Iberiabank.

Hadrian's Iberian ancestry was the inspiration for the bank's acquisition and the statue was placed on a pedestal outside the St Peter branch of the bank in the town of New Iberia, Louisiana until 1980, where it was covered by a domed glass enclosure.

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