Artist: Copy after the Roman Antique
Year: Mid 19th century.
Medium: Marble
Size: Height - 24 1/2", Length - 20 1/2", Width - 10 1/2"
Original Location: Grand Salon.

2012.11.01 EL On loan from the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

This is one of four larger than life size busts that were displayed in the Grand salon.  It is not known if these four were Grand Tour purchases or purchase at another time.  These types of bust would have been available in cities such as New York and Philadelphia by the mid nineteenth century.  In the first half of the nineteenth century there is a renewed interested in classicalism which is seen in decorative arts and architecture.  It appears that this bust was copied from a full length marble statue dating from 140 to 150 A.D.  in the Albertinum Museum in Dresden. 


Antoninus Pius was born September 19, 86 A.D. He reign as Emperor of Roman from July 11, 138 until his death on March 7, 161.  He was adopted by his predecessor Hadrian.  His long reign was a period of peace with his capable administration.  He built temples, theaters and promoted the arts and sciences.  He honored teaches of rhetoric and philosophy with recognition and monetarily.  He was praised by latter generations.  The political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli in 1503 names him as one of the “Five Good Emperors”.  A term still in use today.  Antoninus Pius reputation was further enhanced by the English historian Edward Gibbon in his mulita-volume work the They History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire written between 1876 and 1789.  This was a major influence on nineteenth century thought. [1] The book is still in print today. 


This bust along with the Bust Emperor Hadrian was inherited by the Acklen’s son William and went with his estate of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.  Both busts retain their original marble pedestals.  


[1] McKay, John P.; Bennett D. Hill, John Buckler, Patricia B. Ebrey and Roger B. Beck. A History of World Societies (7th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.


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Belmont Blvd & Acklen Avenue 

Nashville, TN 37212


1900 Belmont Blvd

Nashville, TN 37212


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The architecture of Belmont Mansion makes it one of the most significant homes of 19th century Tennessee.

Sold by the Acklen family in 1887, the house went to a developer who began one of Nashville’s early suburbs.

It was then purchased by two women who in 1890 started a college which evolved into Belmont University. Today the Belmont Mansion Association, which was formed in 1972, owns the collection, runs the museum, and shares this unique story of 19th century Nashville with visitors from far and near.

Photos by Ed Houk