Research Update on Portraiture of Livia

As I’ve been researching my topic throughout the summer, I keep finding more questions than answers.  This research is laying the groundwork for my honors thesis on the portraiture of Livia, the first Roman empress, so I’ll start writing in earnest once the school year starts.  Fortunately, this timeline has given me plenty of room to explore scholarly rabbit holes and to develop a strong background in my topic.  To fully ground my main argument about the divine likenesses of Livia in art and literature, I’ve found that I need to have a grasp on topics ranging from portrait production to gender roles in ancient Rome.  It can be frustrating to spend an entire day looking at sources that probably won’t make it into my final bibliography, but I know I’ll write a better thesis if I appreciate these nuanced aspects of Roman art.

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Early Imperial Portraiture of Livia in European Museums

Before talking about the research I’ve been conducting while on campus, it’s important to establish the preparatory work I did earlier in the year.  Because my research involves the study of Livia Drusilla’s portraiture, the trips I took to various museums with statues of Livia were extremely helpful in shaping my understanding of her image.  These visits occurred while I was studying abroad this past semester, and though I was based in England, I traveled all over Europe to see museums with classical artwork collections.  Being able to study Livia’s depictions in person was invaluable, because online images of museum catalogs are often inaccessible or incomplete, and they usually only capture the front of a statue.  Though I of course couldn’t travel to see every extant statue of Livia, I was able to see a great swath, some of which are depicted below in photos I took.

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