Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern (Hardback)
  • Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern (Hardback)
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Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern (Hardback)

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Hardback 392 Pages / Published: 28/09/2021
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Examining representations of the Twelve Caesars through over 2,000 years, Beard's beautifully eloquent and stunningly illustrated volume makes eye-opening connections across history.

From the bestselling author of SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, the fascinating story of how images of Roman autocrats have influenced art, culture, and the representation of power for more than 2,000 years.

What does the face of power look like? Who gets commemorated in art and why? And how do we react to statues of politicians we deplore? In this book -against a background of today's "sculpture wars" - Mary Beard tells the story of how for more than two millennia portraits of the rich, powerful, and famous in the western world have been shaped by the image of Roman emperors, especially the "Twelve Caesars," from the ruthless Julius Caesar to the fly-torturing Domitian. Twelve Caesars asks why these murderous autocrats have loomed so large in art from antiquity and the Renaissance to today, when hapless leaders are still caricatured as Neros fiddling while Rome burns.

Beginning with the importance of imperial portraits in Roman politics, this richly illustrated book offers a tour through 2,000 years of art and cultural history, presenting a fresh look at works by artists from Memling and Mantegna to the nineteenth-century American sculptor Edmonia Lewis, as well as by generations of weavers, cabinetmakers, silversmiths, printers, and ceramicists. Rather than a story of a simple repetition of stable, blandly conservative images of imperial men and women, Twelve Caesars is an unexpected tale of changing identities, clueless or deliberate misidentifications, fakes, and often ambivalent representations of authority.

From Beard's reconstruction of Titian's extraordinary lost Room of the Emperors to her reinterpretation of Henry VIII's famous Caesarian tapestries, Twelve Caesars includes fascinating detective work and offers a gripping story of some of the most challenging and disturbing portraits of power ever created.

Published in association with the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691222363
Number of pages: 392
Dimensions: 241 x 165 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

'We talk about Beard's book, out later this year, on images of the Roman emperors from the ancient world to now. It will have that distinctive focus of hers: not just who the emperors were and what they did, but how we think about them. In her work, the consumption of classical culture is as revealing as the culture itself.' - Josh Spero, Financial Times

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“An eye-opening discussion on the influence Imperial Rome has had on Western society.”

When it comes to Ancient Rome there is no-one better qualified than Professor Mary Beard. Her latest book, “The 12 Caesars” is an illuminating perspective on how the imagery of Rome’s early empire has pervaded art for... More

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