A.D. 69–75, reworked from a portrait of A.D. 64–68
Place of Manufacture: Italy, Lazio, Tusculum
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 345; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 115 (additional published references).
35 x 17 cm (13 3/4 x 6 11/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble, from Carrara in northwest Italy
Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)
Domitian (Emperor A.D. 81-96) is the subject of this life-sized portrait, probably made about A.D. 69-75 when his father Vespasian and his brother Titus were co-emperors. The large ears, the fleshy eyes with small upper lids and heavy lower ones, and the style of the hair around the ears show that the portrait was originally of the Emperor Nero (A.D. 54-68) and was probably executed is the last four years of his reign. After Nero’s death, the similarities in appearance between Nero and Domitian (at that time an imperial prince) allowed this portrait to be recut into an image of Domitian.
The Neronian hairstyle and the full hair over the temples suggest that this portrait is probably one of the earlier types of Domitian’s portraiture, executed between A.D. 69 and A.D. 75.
The plaster tip of the nose has now been removed; the face and hair have been cleaned. The neck was worked for insertion in a togate statue.
University of South Florida Lab No. 8426: Isotope ratios - delta13C +1.8 / delta18O -1.5,
Attribution - Carrara. Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain
By 1888: with Alessandro Fausti (said to have been found at Frascati, in the ruins of Domitian's villa Tusculum; later in the municipal collection at Frascati); purchased from Alessandro Fausti by R. Lanciani; purchased by MFA from R. Lanciani, 1888, for $493.92 (this figure is the total price of MFA 88.538–88.644 and 89.9–89.31)
Benjamin Pierce Cheney Donation