Perrier, François (1594-1649)

[Original etching/ets] Hadrian and his wife; Mars and Venus [‘Segmenta nobilium signorum et statuarum.’, 1638]/Hadrianus en zijn vrouw, Mars en Venus.

A female figure adjusting a baldric slung across the chest of a nude, bearded man wearing a helmet; after a Roman statue formerly in the Borghese collection (Borgesius collectie). The statue is now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris [inv. MR 316]; it was acquired from Prince Borghese in 1807.

The group was discovered in Rome near Santa Maria Maggiore, shortly before 1620. It was realized at the beginning of the second century. It originally represented the couple formed by the emperor Hadrian and his wife Vibia Sabina. At a later date though, and for unknown reasons, the group was retouched: the head of the woman was replaced by another antique portrait. The facial features and the hairstyle, which is an essential index in the dating of Roman portraits, allowed to relate it to an effigy of the end of the second century, probably a portrait of Lucille, the wife of Emperor Lucius Verus (161-169). If this is the case, Lucille would have reused this group to the glory of his late husband: she would have substituted his portrait to that of Vibia Sabina and trivialized the face of Hadrian to make a generic figure to erect Lucius Verus at the rank of a god. Such a replacement could be, anyhow, modern.

Hadrian is the first Roman emperor to have figured as a god during his lifetime. Until then, the members of the imperial family did not attain this honour, and gained immortality only after their death. The couple is here likened to the lovers Mars and Venus, the deities of War and Love, according to a model that must probably be found at the time of Augustus, in a group created by Pasitélès, a Greek sculptor living in Rome. Hadrian’s image is more idealized than Sabina’s. The emperor is represented in heroic nakedness, armed with the military attributes of Mars: the crested helmet, the harness, the sword and the breastplate, deposited on the tree trunk which serves as a prop for the figure. This allegorical portrait, intended for the imperial propaganda, shows the role of the emperor: Hadrian imposes himself as the guarantor of the Peace and the prosperity of the Empire.

Signed and numbered on the ground: “FP B 21”, FP monogrammed and the B stands for “Bergognone”.

From ‘Segmenta Nobiliarum Signorum et Statuarum’, a series of 101 etched plates (frontispiece and 100 illustrations) representing statues from Rome, first published in Rome in 1638, and reprinted five times before the end of the seventeenth century.

On verso, on the bottom right corner collector’s mark: “P” in black (stencilled?). Date of publishing 1638.

Etching on laid paper; plate mark: 233 x 141 mm, total: 293 x 181 mm; some soiling on the external margins, otherwise very nice impression. On verso,brown stain towards the bottom, not visible from the front. Le Blanc 38-137.

Incl. BTW  102,85

Excl. BTW  85,00

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