Portrait of a man
Place of Manufacture: Italy, Lazio, Rome
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 370; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 115 (additional published references).
39 cm (15 3/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble, Göktepe, Turkey (near Aphrodisias)
Out on Loan
On display at Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia, Rome, December 7, 2017 – March 4, 2018
This bust shows a man with a short-clipped, finely chiseled beard common in the era of the Severan emperors. The bust was said to have been found near a statue as well as a statue base whose dedicatory inscription identified it as a monument, erected by a friend, to Caius Memmius Caecilianus Placidus. These three pieces may not belong together.
The man is shown long, wavy hair, a short beard, and a mustache. His eyebrows are sculpted, his irises incised, and his pupils are hollowed out, with a vertical ridge left in their upper part to suggest reflected light.
The base of the neck is worked for insertion in a statue. The missing tip of the nose is restored in plaster, and a lock of hair over the right ear is broken off. There are minor surface abrasions, and the marble has acquired a very pleasing variety of the usual yellow tone.
University of South Florida Lab No. 8438: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.9 / delta18O -2.7,
Istituto di Struttura della Materia - CNR Lab No. 2 (January 30, 2012): maximum grain size: 0.5mm; electron paramagnetic resonance: intensity 5.0%, line width 51.5%; color 82%
Attribution - Göktepe 3, Turkey (near Aphrodisias). Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain, pure white, low EPR intensity
Probability of correct quarry assignment (Istituto di Struttura della Materia - CNR Lab No. 2; January 30, 2012):
distance of sample from center of quarry probability field: 4.9; relative probability: 66%; absolute probability 56%
By 1886: with Signor Besi (or Bessi) (said to have been found in June 1886, in the foundation of a house belonging to Signor Besi or Bessi at the corner of the Via Cavour and the Piazza dell' Esquilino, Rome); between 1886 and 1888, purchased by Jandolo from Signor Besi (or Bessi); by 1888: purchased by R. Lanciani from Jandolo; purchased by MFA from R. Lanciani, 1888, for $491.89 (this is the total purchase price for MFA 88.346–530)