Group of a female figure and a boy

Inv. Scu 243

The sculptural group, originally destined to a funerary chamber, features a woman sitting on a low chair with her son standing at her side on the left; the woman wears a long-sleeved tunic girt just below the breast and mantle, lent on the left shoulder, which also covers the legs. The wavy hair, parted at centre, is tied back in a bun. Her hand rests on her son’s shoulders.

The child, ridiculously small wears tunic and toga; the bulla at his neck qualifies him as a free-born citizen. The disproportion between mother and son confers to the group a rather naive character.

Because of the plump features of the boy’s face, the group has been sometimes interpreted as “Agrippina and Nero“; however, the head, though ancient, may not be pertinent to the sculptural group.

The coiffure of the woman, which recalls those popular in the age of Claudius or Nero, dates the sculpture to the 1st century AD.

Formerly displayed in the Vatican Belvedere, the group was part of the donation made by Pius V to the Roman people in 1566. Transferred to the Capitol Hill, the sculpture was first displayed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, and from the seventeenth century, in the Palazzo Nuovo; after having been placed in the Sala del Fauno and the Sala delle Colombe, it was moved to its present location before 1775.