About This Artwork

Roman, minted in Rome

Aureus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Vespasian, A.D. 75/79, issued by Vespasian

Diam. 2 cm; 7.37 g
"Emperor Caesar Vespasian Augustus"
"Fortuna Augusta"

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.4867

In A.D. 68 the chaotic reign of the Roman emperor Nero came to an end with his forced suicide, but what followed was an equally chaotic struggle to succeed him. The support of the army was critical: the year A.D. 69 saw one general after another claim the throne only to be killed by one of his rivals. Finally, the Roman army in Egypt joined the army in Syria to back General Vespasian. Knowing that Egypt was the empire’s breadbasket, Vespasian’s first effort as emperor was to pacify and control this important province. Thearmor he wears on this coin emphasizes his role as a warrior king.

—Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

"Ruling Families: Imperial Dynasties of the Early Roman Empire 31 B.C.- A.D. 235." Nov.
1997-Nov.2001, Gallery 155 (Coin Case)

The Art Institute of Chicago, When the Greeks Ruled: Egypt After Alexander the Great, October 31, 2013 - July 27, 2014.

Publication History

Karen Alexander and Mary Greuel. Private Taste in Ancient Rome: Selections from Chicago Collections, (1990). n.pag.(n.59).

Karen B. Alexander. "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago." in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester, (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p.29.

View mobile website