The Getty Caligula

by CosmoWenman, published

The Getty Caligula by CosmoWenman Jan 6, 2015




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"Although he is now a god, he is still the same lovable young man we've always known. I can attest to that. And to enable his relationships with all of us to continue exactly as they were, he has decided, for convenience, to retain his mortal form. Oh and by the way his sister Drusilla's become a godess. Any questions?" —Macro, in the BBC's I, Claudius

This is my 3D capture of the Getty's head of Caligula, which I photographed in November 2012 at the Getty Villa.

- Download the model: thingiverse.com/thing:196059/#files
- Full-color 3D visualization: skfb.ly/Cw7F
- All my 3D captures: thingiverse.com/CosmoWenman/designs

For my own Caligula copy, I modified the original by digitally cutting out its eyes, designing a fractured, ragged edge around its neck and hollowing the whole thing out. I printed a life-size copy in PLA, and used it as a pattern for lost-PLA bronze casting--burning the PLA directly instead of wax. This was my first large-scale experiment with lost-PLA casting, and it turned out very, very well.

I patinated the result to make it look like a long-lost artifact.

Speaking of ancient history, I photographed this piece for 3D over two years ago. It's getting increasingly frustrating to keep publishing museums' pieces before they do, even at the slow pace I'm working. Am I really going to publish a decent-quality 3D model of the Getty Kouros or the Getty Bronze before the Getty itself does?

If you know someone-who-knows-someone at the Getty who can encourage them to start making some noise in this field... It would be great to see the Getty take the lead from the Smithsonian.

Anyhow, here's the Getty's description of the original Caligula marble:

The Roman emperor Gaius, more commonly known by his nickname Caligula, ruled from A.D. 37 to 41 and was extremely unpopular. In fact, after he was murdered, almost all portraits of him were destroyed.

The Romans had a long tradition of portraiture, but portraits of emperors had a specific propaganda function beyond that of ordinary portraits. The actual appearance of the individual was combined with the political message that the portrait was meant to convey. Portraits of Caligula show a young man with a high forehead, small mouth, and thin lips. He is identifiable as an individual, yet his hairstyle copies that of the emperor Augustus, making a deliberate allusion to his dynastic connection and his right to rule.

The depiction of the emperor in these official portraits bears no resemblance to the unpleasant descriptions of Caligula provided by Roman writers such as Suetonius:

Height: tall -- Complexion: pallid -- Body: hairy and badly built -- Neck: thin -- Legs: spindling -- Eyes: sunken -- Temples: hollow -- Forehead: broad and forbidding -- Scalp: almost hairless, especially on top. Because of his baldness and hairiness he announced that it was a capital offense either for anyone to look down on him as he passed or to mention goats in any context.

Head of Emperor Caligula
Roman, Asia Minor, about A.D. 40
16 15/16 in.
Getty accession number 72.AA.155

This 3D capture was made with an older consumer-grade digital camera and processed into 3D with Project Memento.

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you're a god. keep up the good work. the world will catch up to what you envision.