Public images of rulers serve as potent symbols of power and propaganda. In ancient Rome, tyrannical emperors were deposed and assassinated, their likenesses defaced by angry citizens and sometimes by official decree. In this talk, curator Amy Brauer discusses the ancient practice of damnatio memoriae and its relation to contemporary debates about monuments.
This talk is part of a series investigating power dynamics in artworks across the collections. Considering intersections of art and power, our curatorial team discusses how artists engage with social and political crises, use art to upset systems of power, and imagine more equitable futures.
Amy Brauer, Curator of the Collection, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art
Bearded man, possibly Emperor Macrinus, Roman, Roman Imperial period, early to mid-3rd century CE. Luna marble. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund, 1949.47.138.