Statue of the emperor Claudius

Discovered by chance in Bordeaux, on the banks of the tributary Devèze river, "hors les murs" in 1594, close to the former chapel of Saint-Martin-du-Mont-Judaïque (Saint-Seurin quarter), with two other marble statues, one of which is exhibited and the oth
First half of the 1st century, probably 42 A.D. Marble. Inv.: 60.2.16

This statue represents the emperor Claudius, recognisable not by his head, which was discovered but has since been lost, but by the circumstances of the discovery and the draping of his toga, the volume and folds of which are extremely well rendered and present characteristics enabling us to date the statue to the early 1st century rather than a later period. Claudius had been Rome's religious head for a year (Pontifex maximus in 41), and in that year (42) he was Father of the Country (Pater Patriae).

The context of the site of its discovery in 1594 led to suppositions, according to the documents of the time, that the statue decorated the great public baths, which is not very likely at that period. The statue constitutes one of the very first ancient remains preserved by the Town of Bordeaux, with the altar of the Bituriges Vivisques, the statue of Drusus (nephew of Claudius) and a female statue which is today lost (known as "Messalina" due to her beauty, but in fact Faustina the Younger). Following pressure by enlightened amateurs, the magistrates decided to exhibit these works in the town hall, in a space arranged for the purpose. It was there that the greatest "Antiquarians" of Europe came to see them, and where Van der Hem drew them in 1648 for his Atlas Blaue.

Statue of the emperor Claudius (c) mairie de Bordeaux