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    Hadrian On Horseback

    Hadrian (AD 117-138). AV aureus (20mm, 7.37 gm, 6h). NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style.  Rome, AD 132-134. HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS, bareheaded and draped bust of Hadrian left / CO-S III  P · P, Hadrian in military dress on horse rearing to right, cloak billowing out behind, holding level spear at low port in right hand. RIC 205h. BMCRE 535. Cohen 492. Calicó 1246 (same reverse die). Perfectly struck from dies of great artistry, with an elegant portrait of Hadrian in high relief.

    Ex Maison Palombo 13 (13 December 2014), lot 61 (realized $45,600 hammer); Christope Joron-Dorem (25 March 2014), lot 34.

    Hadrian's early coin portraits are much in the tradition set by his predecessor Trajan, featuring the emperor wearing a military cuirass and a general's cloak (paludamentum). Starting about AD 122, Hadrian's aesthetic tastes come to the fore in his coinage, with larger, more "civilian" portraits. The standard obverse legend, which had grown to enormous length and complexity during the reign of Trajan, was likewise greatly simplified, becoming simply HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS. This sharp change in numismatic portraiture and titulature was doubtless ordered by Hadrian himself and came amid a major propaganda push tying him to the first Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. In so doing, Hadrian was proclaiming a Roman Empire made anew under his enlightened rule, with all denizens sharing in the tranquility and prosperity of the age. Curiously, the reverse design of the emperor astride a rearing horse, holding a spear, is borrowed not from Augustus, but from the last and most notorious Julio-Claudian ruler, Nero, who shared a number of character traits with Hadrian, including a love of art, drama and all things Greek. 


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    7th-8th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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