Emperor Probus, Emperor of Rome (232-282 AD)
Art / Sculpture
89 cm (Diameter)Order this image
Vyne Estate, Hampshire (Accredited Museum)
On show at
Britain is well known for its gardens, but not so much for its winemaking. Nevertheless this terracotta roundel, on display at The Vyne in Hampshire, speaks to our viticultural connections to ancient Rome. The exquisitely carved figure at the centre of the roundel is the man who introduced vines to Britain: Marcus Aurelius Probus, Emperor of the Roman Empire (AD 276 - 282). Probus is said to have grown weary of war and encouraged his legionnaires to engage in peaceful reconstructive work, specifically the extensive planting of grapevines throughout Europe. Unfortunately for Probus, his oenophilic ambitions were not reciprocated by his troops who favoured the glory of battle over the arduous graft of vine cultivation. The emperor met his end on a nascent vineyard in Sirmium (present day Serbia) when a group of his soldiers-cum-farmers chased him into a tower and killed him. This roundel was probably made in the Florentine workshop of Giovanni da Maiano in the 1520s and is one of the earliest examples of Italian Renaissance sculpture in this country. According to tradition, the first grapevines introduced to Britain were planted near The Vyne, giving the house its name and making this roundel an especially fitting sculptural addition.
Terracotta, Emperor Probus, Emperor of Rome (232-282 AD). Medallion bust of the Roman Emperor Probus, who authorised the introduction of vines into Britain. It resembles those busts of Emperors made by Giovanni di Maiano for Hampton Court in 1521 and may have been inserted by William Sandys.
Not in 1754 inventory; may have been acquired after the Tudor 'Holbein' gate in Whitehall was demolished in 1759-60; bequeathed with The Vyne, estate and contents by Sir Charles Chute, 1st Bt (1879-1956)