An extremely rare left facing portrait aureus of Hadrian
Lot 261
Hadrian, 117-138. Aureus (Gold, 20 mm, 7.11 g, 6 h), Rome, 121-123. IMP CAESAR TRAIAN HADRIANVS AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Hadrian to left. Rev. P M TR P COS III Jupiter seated left on throne, holding thunderbolt in his right hand and long scepter in his left. BMC -. Calicó 1305. Cohen -. RIC 514. Extremely rare. A beautiful piece with an inredibly artistic left-facing portrait. Very light marks, otherwise, extremely fine.

Although the majority of imperial numismatic portraits feature a right-facing bust, echoing the tradition of Hellenistic royal portraiture, some pieces feature a left-facing bust or head instead, especially from the later third century onwards. The underlying significance of this departure remains unknown, though one could argue that a left-facing portrait looks 'backwards', at least from the perspective of a right-facing bust, which may suggest a retrospective stance, perhaps indicative of introspection and deference to established norms. The latter must not be overstated, however, since the Romans conceived of time in a more cyclical manner than we do. Whatever the underlying meaning (if any), the Romans' willingness to experiment with differing bust types adds an intriguing dimension to their coinage, exemplified particularly elegantly in this beautiful aureus.
5000 CHF
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