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Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern

por Mary Beard

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317482,491 (3.68)4
"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 African American sculptor Edmonia Lewis, as well as by generations of now-forgotten 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 some 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 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC"--… (mais)
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There was a lot I really enjoyed about this - mainly that it's richly illustrated, and Mary Beard's voice is an absolute joy. But some of it felt forced, mainly the end, to speak to the location of her audience (the District of Columbia). It is incredibly hard to adapt lectures to written materials, it's hard to put what is spoken into what is written. But still, I found this to be absolutely delightful, and even if I wasn't in grad school I would have read this, because at the heart of it is what I tell people all the time – that so much shit is just totally made up, and no one really knows anything. If that's true at the heart of Classics, of art history, – it must be true everywhere. The slippage that has been occurring since the "Dawn of Western Civilization" (is this Agrippina the Younger, The Elder? Does it matter?) reaffirms that everyone belongs in not only the Classical World, but all forms of history, since it is literally all made up anyway. ( )
  adaorhell | Oct 14, 2023 |
https://fromtheheartofeurope.eu/twelve-caesars-images-of-power-from-the-ancient-...

Beautifully illustrated and very detailed description of the iconography of the Twelve Caesars, as made classic by Suetonius, in sculpture and art, based on (but updated from) a series of lectures given in 2011. There’s a huge amount of detail, including a sarcophagus that Andrew Jackson refused to be buried in, and fascinating stuff about lost art that we still know about. Hampton Court alone merits almost a whole chapter. Not my usual thing, and I’m not close enough to the subject to really learn as much as I would like to from this, but it is entertaining and informative. ( )
  nwhyte | Jul 13, 2023 |
¿Cómo es el rostro del poder? ¿A quién se representa en el arte y por qué? En esta obra singular, Mary Beard –seguramente la clasicista más prestigiosa de nuestros días- cuenta la historia de cómo durante más de dos milenios los retratos de los ricos, poderosos y famosos del mundo occidental han sido moldeados a partir de la imagen de los emperadores romanos, especialmente los Doce Césares. Desde el despiadado Julio César hasta el cruel Domiciano, el poder se representa a imitación del arte clásico y los dirigentes caídos en desgracia a menudo son caricaturizados como Nerones tocando el violín mientras Roma arde.

Comenzando con la importancia de los retratos imperiales en la política romana, este libro ricamente ilustrado nos ofrece un recorrido a través de dos mil años de historia del arte y la cultura, presentando una mirada fresca a las obras de artistas desde Mantegna hasta la actualidad, así como por generaciones de tejedores, ebanistas, plateros, impresores y ceramistas. Más que la historia de una simple repetición de imágenes de hombres y mujeres imperiales, Doce césares es una historia sorprendente de identidades cambiantes, identificaciones erróneas deliberadas o desorientadas, falsificaciones y, a menudo, representaciones ambivalentes de la autoridad.
  bibliotecayamaguchi | Nov 19, 2021 |
Based on The Sixtieth A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts: Twelve Caesars.

This is a pure art history book, it's not about Roman history.

As art history I would say 4/5.

If on the other hand you're looking for Roman history in the vein of Pompeii or SPQR, you won't find it here, and as a regular non-fiction book I would say 2/5 due to the overwhelming detail.

It is a very detailed analysis of the history of images (particularly coins and sculptures) of the first twelve Roman Caesars / Emperors, including many misidentifications, and controversies over whether the images are from the classical era or more recent creations. It then uses these images as a way of exploring the art history of Western representations of individuals.

Unabridged audiobook read by Mary Beard (the author):
Well read, in a conversational tone.
1 vote rakerman | Oct 13, 2021 |
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For the American Academy in Rome, with gratitude and happy memories
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"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 African American sculptor Edmonia Lewis, as well as by generations of now-forgotten 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 some 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 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC"--

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