Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Titus Flavius Domitianus (Emperor AD 81-96) 16th Century

 Italian School 

Titus Flavius Domitianus (Emperor AD 81-96),  Italian School
Oil on canvas
16th Century
49 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches 125.7 x 97.8 cm
Domitianus was an intelligent despot, who has been generally misunderstood because of the hostility of contemporary writers (Juvenal, Tacitus and the younger Pliny). They saw in him only the ruthless terrorist of the later years of his reign, which ended in his murder.

He aimed at strengthening the existing frontiers of the Empire, and exercised strict control over the administration of the provinces. He was determined to break any remaining powers of opposition in the Senate and did so by confiscations of property and executions.

Some Christians were victims of his reign of terror, as were the doctrinaire opponents known as the ''Stoic Opposition" But there is no evidence of the widespread persecution attributed to him by later Christian apologists.

This extravagently mannerist conception of the emperor would probably have formed part of the decorative scheme for a palazzo, one of a series of ancient emperors and worthies.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.