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Roman Busts in Toulouse

Portraits du premier siècle de l'Empire romain, Musée Saint-Raymond, ToulouseDidn't I just post something about Toulouse? Yes, I did. That city in southern France, which is a beautiful place and has a very good opera company and a stunning Romanesque cathedral (the burial place of St. Saturninus, first bishop of Toulouse in the 3rd century and one of the apostles of Gaul), also has the Musée Saint-Raymond. That little museum near the cathedral has an excellent collection of Roman statuary and a new exhibit called Portraits du premier siècle de l'Empire romain. Anne-Marie Romero wrote a review (Romains de marbre au Musée Saint-Raymond, January 3) for Le Figaro (my translation and links added):

There is Augustus, when he was still called Octavian, discovered in Béziers, an official bust of a young man with a thin face and a haughty air. There is Agrippa, handsome Agrippa, seducer of women, with the attraction of Marlon Brando, square chin, broad forehead, deep-set eyes. There is Tiberius, with his large head, his small drooping mouth, and his somewhat peasantish look, that always made idealization impossible in his portraits. There are some fifty of them all together, presented by the Musée Saint-Raymond in Toulouse, the richest collection of sculpted Roman heads after the museums of Rome and the Louvre, which possesses the famous Venus of Ille, such an inspiration to Prosper Mérimée.
According to the article, the museum has about 300 of these Roman busts, most of them found buried in ditches near the Villa Chirigan, a Gallo-Roman home at Martres-Tolosane, south of Toulouse. Other heads of the Julio-Claudian family were discovered in a house in Béziers. The curators have been able to identify many of the portrait heads, not only the most famous ones, by comparing them to images on coins, many of which are on display next to their respective busts. This exhibit will remain open through March 4. Since the museum does not have a Web site, there's not much more I can give you. Any readers in Toulouse?

1 comment:

Charles T. Downey said...

The following comment by an Ionarts reader was placed on an adjoining article. It is of significant interest and comes from Julia Domna:

I am a french student in archeology. Here is a very good and comprehansive website about the roman Marbles in toulouse
You will find here every potrait from the Museum.
I can but confirm the quality of those portraits!
Pictures are also very good

Nous vous remercions tous, Julia!