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A Roman Marble Portrait Head of a Man, Hadrianic Period, Eastern Empire, ca 117 - 138 AD

sculpted in the likeness of the Emperor, with his characteristic thick wavy hair combed forward in undulating rows, with a closely-cropped beard of wavy locks, spiraling around his jaw line and forking slightly below his chin, the mustache with a gap at the philtrum, his thin upper lip pressed against his fleshy lower lip, the almond-shaped eyes would have been rendered in paint as was conventional. 

Background:  Of all the Roman emperors, Hadrian (r. a.d. 117–38) is the one whose portrait is most frequently found, all across the empire from Britain to Persia, from Asia Minor to Egypt. Hadrian traveled widely, visiting most of the provinces during the twenty years of his reign, and commissioned buildings, aqueducts, and roads in many cities. Citizens responded to Hadrian’s generosity by erecting numerous statues in his honor, and after his death they revered him as a god.

Hadrian greatly admired the Greeks. Unlike previous emperors, who were cleanshaven, Hadrian wore a beard, perhaps in emulation of the Greek philosophers whom he so revered.

Height:28 cm (11 inches), Mounted Height: 38.5 cm (15.2 inches) 

Condition: Loss to the nose, some mineral deposits, otherwise intact and in very good condition overall.

Provenance:  Private Australian collection, acquired in the early 1970's, further details provided to purchaser.  With Art Loss Register certificate.

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