Design for Ornamental Dish with Three Portraits of the Caesars, late 16th century

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The "twelve Caesars" became a popular theme after Suetonius's biography of the emperors was published in 1470. Theodor de Bry put them on a set of dish designs, here showing Augustus, Vitellius, and Domitian. The profiles are based on portrait medals by Paduan Giovanni Cavino, whose renderings established the standard look of the twelve Caesars in art. In a humorous turnabout, de Bry's Caesars are surrounded not by scenes of conquest but by grotesques and capering jesters.

Design for Ornamental Dish with Three Portraits of the Caesars
Artist Life
1528 - 1598
Accession Number
Purchased at Lucien Goldschmidt, New York, January 18, 1978
Curator Approved

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