DOMITIAN OF MAI
REPLICA OF THE PORTRAIT MEDALLION OF DOMITIAN. 1530-1533. MNAC
It is an imported sculpture, a great quality and perfection piece that could just be found in central Italy studios at that moment. There, this type of collection of Roman emperors was worth a vast commercial fortune.
62 CM Ø, 6 CM (D)
35- 45 DAYS
It is an imported sculpture, a piece of great quality and perfection that could just be found in studios of central Italy at that moment. There, this type of collection of Roman emperors was worth a vast commercial fortune. Perhaps, Miquel Mai taking advantage of his stay among Roma, Bologna andNaples decided to purchase the marble medallion from the sculptors of the papal community. He wanted to place them later in his house of Barcelona so as to integrate into the Italian society and culture while assimilating nobility behaviors that expressed the typical splendor in the private life and keeping therefore its prestige.
The original work of art, which is located in the MNAC, belonged to an old collection of Miquel Mai composed of twenty-one marble relieves. Miguel was one of the most well-known Catalan politicians then. He headed the chancery of Sardinia in 1512 and was ambassador of the Spanish crown in the Holy See in Rome, together with the Pope Clement VII. But the most important of all the titles was vice-chancellor of the Aragon crown in 1533. Having a privileged position, as he was a public worker of Carlos V, he was besides placed at the leading edge of art motivated by a humanistic education and his powerful Renaissance personality. All of this allowed him to raise a rich and varied heritage, a collection acquired over his nomadic life. The sculpture attributed to Alfonso Lombardi (Ferrara 1497- Bologna 1537) represents the portrait of the imperator Domitian painted between 1530 and 1533. Old characters portraits from the side were one of the most typical decorations in Italy because the humanistic tradition fostered the culture and the old art as an aesthetic and moral model.
Then, artists and principal parties looked for inspiration in diverse sources. In the case of the Mai medallion, it comes from old roman models of busts, coins and cameos which were sometimes filtered from engravings. The marble of Domitian, crowned by laurel and the imperial dressing, appears with an inscription carved in exergo "imperator caesaris Domitianus augustus germanicus consulis XI". Thanks to the epigraphy, the coin that would be later used as the model for the engraving in the year 85 A.D. can be precisely dated. This is because this emperor was consul for the eleventh time that year, and as it was an annual high position, the previous was the tenth and the following the twelfth occasion.