This bust of an officer from Trajan’s time resonates with two prestigious works exhibited at the Musée d’art et d’histoire and also complements the series of funerary monuments, which include both sarcophagi and closures for burial niches.
Among the jewels of the Roman collection are a full-length statue of a triumphator from the region of Ancona (inv. 8938). It represents the front view of a nude man with a mantle over his shoulder; in his left hand, he holds a sword inserted into its sheath. Whereas the nude body is idealized, the head with prominent features is that of a man of mature years. Is this Trajan or his father? The identification is not certain. A bust of Emperor Trajan, larger than life-size, dressed in a breastplate and military coat (inv. 19049), enriches the gallery of Roman portraits. The unknown officer in the Barbier-Mueller collection sports the same hairstyle as the emperor, with locks combed forward to form a fringe on the forehead. That act of imitation is a sign of loyalty.
Béatrice Blandin, Curator of the Archaeology Department at the Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva