Carved in the round from fine-grained white marble with finely polished surface, this example of the Emperor is slightly smaller than life-size and probably from Britain. It represents Hadrian with his head turned slightly to the left, his gaze fixed straight in front. His face is framed by characteristic thick wavy hair and a closely-cropped beard of wavy locks. His forehead is smoothed, with gently arching brows and large recessed almond-shaped eyes with modeled lids, the convex eyes unarticulated with pronounced creases under the eyes.
Background: Publius Aelius Hadrianus (or Hadrian) served as Emperor for twenty-one years, from 117-138 A.D. Due to the length of his reign, combined with his enduring popularity throughout the Empire, a significant number of his portraits survive, more than for any other emperor, save Augustus. Hadrian traveled widely, visiting most of the provinces, 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. As Hadrian was forty-one years old when he came to power, his portraits show him as a middle-aged man. He was the first emperor to wear a beard, a trend that would persist for several centuries. His beard was once thought to illustrate Hadrian's philhellenic outlook but is now recognized as a statement of his connection to the military, since beards were sported by men on campaign.
Condition: Loss to the nose, otherwise intact with some mineral deposits and in very good condition overall. Custom mounted.
Dimensions: 28 cm (11 inches), Mounted: 38.5 cm (15.2 inches)
Exhibited: Museum of Classical Antiquities Melbourne, Australia, 1982 - 1984
Provenance: Phillip Adams, AO, FAHA, FRSA private collection of Ancient Art, Sydney Australia since1984, acquired from the Museum of Classical Antiquities, New York upon the completion of an exhibition held in Melbourne, Australia from 1982 - 1984.