The Capitoline Brutus at the MFA


Don’t miss the rare chance to see this icon of Roman art while it is visiting Boston. On view at the MFA until May 1, The Capitoline Brutus dates to about 300 BC and is considered to be one of the earliest examples of Roman portraiture. Larger than life, arguably the most striking aspect of this bronze is the piercing gaze of the original eyes made of ivory and glass. Often associated with liberty, the statue is thought to represent L. Junius Brutus, the first Roman Consul and the founder of the Republic (as opposed to that other famous Brutus!)

The bronze head was at originally a part of a full-size statue, and was incorporated into a marble bust after its discovery during the Renaissance. Bronzes from this early date rarely survive, as the metal was expensive and often statues were melted to make armour.

The loan from the Capitoline Museum in Rome celebrates the designation by the President of Italy of 2013 as “The Year of Italian Culture in the United States,” a project showcasing Italian arts and culture in cities across the country. The MFA will continue to spotlight Italian art later this month, with the opening of  the exhibit Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane, Master Drawings from the Casa Buonarroti on April 21.

MFA, Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue. Open Saturday-Tuesday, 10am – 4:45pm; Wednesday- Friday, 10am – 9:45pm. Admission (includes repeat visit within 10 days) is $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and students, and free for 17 and younger weekdays after 3pm and weekends (otherwise $10). Wednesday nights after 4pm admission is by contribution. For more information, visit the MFA website.

Head of a bearded man known as “Brutus.” Roman Republican period, probably around 300 BC. Bronze with inlaid bone and glass eyes; Renaissance-era marble bust. Palazzo dei Conservatori inv. 1183, Capitoline, Rome. Image credit: Matthias Kabel. 

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