Unknown artist (Roman)

Roman torso of a naked youth

Artwork Detail

A shoulder reaching upwards; a hint of drapery on the shoulder; a taut abdomen rippling under the light; a series of sinuous contours leading our eyes to thighs parted in nonchalant bravado. Without arms, legs, head, this ancient fragment offers tantalising clues to imagine the person ‘beyond’ the body. The shoulder drapery (chlamys) on this torso indicates that this statue most likely depicted a Roman general raising his arm in address. Although ancient Romans were apprehensive about nudity in real life, the heroic male nude format was enthusiastically adopted by Roman emperors and military leaders to showcase their might for posterity, and statuary portraits often imitated earlier Greek statues of Gods. Ancient fragments like these particularly inspired Renaissance artists with their endless imaginative possibilities for pose and narrative. Far from having a fixed gender, fragments even with evident genitalia were sometimes redrawn, reworked or dressed to assume various gendered guises.

– Emma Jameson, 'Manpower: Myths of Masculinity', 2021.

Roman torso of a naked youth
Unknown artist
Production date
circa 1st century-circa 2nd century
580 x 240 x 170 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, on loan from a private collection
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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