ὅ παῖς καλός: Veristic Armitage

I came across an edit of a plaster head cast of Richard Armitage last evening at preoccupiedwitharmitage.  It struck me as very Roman looking.  When jholland directed me to the original image (which I honestly don’t remember seeing before) 

my reaction was an immediate, “Holy Roman verism!!”  Verism is a style of potrait sculpture that was common in Rome in the Republican period (509-30BC)  It was a sort of warts and all approach that resulted in a product that was a much more true to life portrait than the idealized examples from the Greek sculptural tradition.

Even more than veristic portraits of the living though, this cast is similar to representations of Roman ancestor busts.

A Roman Patrician with his ancestors...or one of them anyway....

A Roman Patrician with his ancestors…or one of them anyway….

It’s the portrait masks though that take the uncanny factor to a new level.  Cast in wax soon after an individual’s death, they were venerated in the home and carried in celebratory processions.  None survive today, but an experiment at Cornell University recreated what they probably looked like.

Imagines maiorum Source

Imagines maiorum
Source

Take another look:

Source

Uncannily Roman…

ὅ παῖς καλός

Advertisements

9 comments on “ὅ παῖς καλός: Veristic Armitage

  1. jholland says:

    LOL at that edit! Surely that’s an improvement! Any Roman patrician would be happy to have such a regal looking ancestor. =)

  2. […] obscura likened the head cast to not a Greek statue, but a style of Roman portrait sculpture called verism. I learn so much in this […]

  3. LOL! Romanus Armitagus?

  4. Guylty says:

    Your edit – ROFL. I am just imagining Peter Jackson with wall full of his actors’ face masks…
    The plaster cast of RA is somehow eerie though, probably for the lack of hair. And funny, for the obvious lines where the plastic hair protection meets the skin – now imagine RA with one of those plastic swimming hats. *snorts*
    Sorry, in silly mood here… BTW, I have a couple of such masks/busts in my bedroom. I have no idea who the people in it are, both young children, btw, but they must be about 100 years old, so the custom obviously was kept on after the Romans…

  5. Hariclea says:

    total emperor material :-))) and like Guylty here i imagined him with one of those caps, either swimming or some the clergy wore in medieval times :-p you know the ones with ear flaps :p

    i find it interesting how much more prominent the lines of his lips appear, perfect!

  6. Hariclea says:

    by the way, i want a show of hands: who could not resist temptation and took a bite out of his cute ear?????

  7. Servetus says:

    What I loved about this cast: it gave me an idea of what he might look while sleeping (even if his face is obviously not as relaxed as that would be)

    • obscura says:

      This is true…and yeah – probably hard to fully relax with straws up his nose for air 😉 (the air thing the Romans didn’t worry about much given their subjects)

  8. linnetmoss says:

    Yes, I love that pouty lower lip, much more prominent in the cast. He definitely looks Roman!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s