Culture: Roman
Date: 1st Century B.C. – 1st Century A.D.
Medium: Marble
Condition: Intact, mounted on a custom base display stand.
Provenance: Ex- European private collection 1980s; American private collection.
Dimensions: H. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm.)
Ref No. ROM111

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The portrait head of a Roman is carved fully in the round. The face is characterized by strong features. The cheekbones and Adam’s apple are prominent. Three horizontal furrows line the forehead. The eyes are wide with defined lids and brows. The mouth has pursed lips and dimpled corners. The hair is conceived as a mass of locks carved compactly in low relief, with the fringe of locks being worn high up on the forehead. The arrangement of hair locks and the details of the face, are typical of the early Julio-Claudian period and closely resemble similar portraits of Octavian/Augustus Caesar and the Julio- Claudian princes.

The division of Roman portraits into types is primarily based on iconographic hairstyles, especially in the case of male portraits with the configuration of locks over the forehead. It has been possible to work out a typological framework. In the case of Augustus, five principal types and two sub-types have been set. The original models for the first four principal types (Types I-IV) were created during the Second Triumviral period (44-29 B.C.), when he was still known as Octavian and was contending with others for power and hegemony over the Roman world. Only one principal type (Type V) and two sub-types (IV.a and IV.b) go back to prototypes produced after he founded the Principate in 27 B.C.. Based on the iconographic hairstyle and other features, this head resembles the Princeton head belonging to Type IV. Another head that resembles our head is the Louvre’s portrait head, which has the central hair locks brushed to the right in the same manner as ours.

Cf: no. 2, pp. 6-11, Roman Sculpture in The Art Museum, Princeton University; no. 39, p.62, Roman Sculpture, Diana E.E. Kleiner, lot 152, Christie’s New York, 6 December 2007; The Power of Images on the Age of Augustus, Zanker, p. 293.