Bronze of Vitellius
brown patinated bronze depicting
Emperor Vitellius ,
on a Giallo Antico marble base
shaped as a Porta Santa marble fluted column
H. (overall) 50 cm ; 19⅔ in.
From the series of Twelve Caesars produced by the Roman studio of Francesco Righetti (1749–1819), this bust is based on the antique model in the Museo Archeologico in Venice, known as Vitellius Grimani . Vitellius was briefly emperor in 69 CE, and the Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius (second century CE) contains an account of his life. In the sixteenth century, painters and sculptors began to generate many portrayals of the sovereign; among these was Gian Battista della Porta (c.1542–1597), who made a copy of Vitellius Grimani for the Palazzo Borghese in Rome.
The 1794 catalogue in French listing works offered by Francesco Righetti’s studio describes a series of Twelve Caesars costing’12 sequins each’. The present bust of Vitellius was one of these.