24.02.2010 to 06.06.2010
At the beginning of February, the Collection of Classical Antiquities will receive one of the most famous and accomplished antique bronzes as a loan from Rome: the bust of the figure identified as 'Brutus' from the Capitoline Museums, which has been synonymous with the Eternal City itself ever since the Renaissance.
Even as long ago as the 16th century, this work of art, which appears in every book on Roman history worth its salt, was taken to be the portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus, the renowned first Roman consul, and it now forms the centrepiece of this intimate exhibition.
The bust is the stern portrait of a mature, bearded man. In a stroke of good fortune, the National Museums in Berlin's own Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) also has in its possession the earliest known drawing of the bust, held in a sketchbook belonging to the Dutch painter Maarten van Heemskerck, which means that both works can now be presented beside one another for the first time.
Coins of Marcus Junius Brutus (Julius Caesar's murderer), bearing the portrait of his legendary ancestor, explain how the head acquired its name in the Renaissance. The Brutus bust played a particularly fascinating role in the French Revolution: as the portrait of an indomitable Republican, who brought about the Roman Republic by ridding the state of the last Etruscan king, the bust served as catalyst and vindication for the execution of Louis XVI, as well as for the increasing radicalization of the Revolution.
The exhibition is sponsored by the board of trustees Musuem Island - the Kuratorium Museumsinsel.