Out On Display #1: Hadrian and Antinous

Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass
September 1, 2014

Welcome to ‘Out in the Museum’; the V&A’s new blog series on all things LGBTQ+! We’ll be covering art, history, museum events and advocacy. Your comments and feedback are welcomed.

This is the first in a regular series of posts on objects in our collection with LGBTQ+ histories.


Coin, head of the Emperor HadrianAureus coin of Emperor Hadrian

Roman, gold c.118 AD


On display in room 8



Zoffoli workshop

Italy (Rome), bronze, late 18th century


On display in room 117


Hadrian, who is commemorated on this gold aureus coin, was known as one of the ‘Five Good Emperors’ of ancient Rome, who maintained almost a century of peace for the empire. A patron of the arts and a lover of Hellenic culture, Hadrian’s love for the Greek youth Antinous was commemorated by him in erotic verse.


Bronze figure of AntinousAntinous, who came of humble origins, was one of Hadrian’s many lovers, but the only one to be so favoured. After his early and mysterious death, Hadrian founded the city of Antinopolis in his memory, and had him deified.


The bronze statuette is an 18th century copy of the ‘Capitoline Antinous’, a marble statue excavated at Hadrian’s villa and once believed to have been a portrait of the youth. Such bronzes were popular souvenirs for wealthy travellers on the eighteenth-century Grand Tour. The Capitoline Antinous is now thought to be a Roman copy of a Greek statue of the god Hermes.

About the author

Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass
September 1, 2014

I'm an assistant curator working between the Sculpture and Prints departments; looking mainly at 18th century material. I look at the relationships between sculpture and printmaking, and the place of...

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