Roman, Imperial Period, ca. early to mid 1st century CE. A finely carved marble head portraying a regal male - a superb example of classicizing imperial portraiture that idealized the features of youthful emperors, as opposed to the veristic representations popular during Republican period. Notice that the sculptor presents this ruler's visage with clean-shaven, smooth skin - not one wrinkle - handsome features such as deep-set eyes, an aquiline nose, and full lips - topped by a short cropped, comma-shaped coiffure - that altogether make for a noble countenance. Augustan and Julio-Claudian portraits emphasized the beauty and youth of their leaders. Augustus set this precedent which was subscribed to by imperial portraiture until the reign of Constantine the Great. Size: 1.25" W x 1.625" H (3.2 cm x 4.1 cm); 3.875" H (9.8 cm) on included custom stand.
The Romans' idealizations of emperor's images were designed to present visual associations with their predecessors - serving as a means of legitimatizing the emperor's authority. For instance, according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heilbrunn Timeline essay entitled "Roman Portrait Sculpture: The Stylistic Cycle," Tiberius' portraits presented an uncanny resemblance to those of Augustus, even though the two were not related. The author states, "Tiberius (r. 14–37 A.D.) (1994.230.7) was not actually related to Augustus, but his portraits portray a remarkable, and fictionalized, resemblance that connected him to the princeps and helped substantiate his position as successor. Even Tiberius’ successor Caligula (r. 37–41 A.D.) (14.37), who had no interest in continuing Augustus’ administrative ideals and was much more concerned with promoting his own agenda, followed the Augustan and Tiberian portrait tradition of classical and idealized features that carried a strong “family” resemblance." (https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ropo2/hd_ropo2.htm)
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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