Portrait of a man

Roman
Imperial Period
A.D. 200–230


Catalogue Raisonné

Greek, Etruscan, & Roman Bronzes (MFA), no. 175; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 121 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 178-179.

Dimensions

Height: 31 cm (12 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

96.703

Medium or Technique

Bronze

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

This head of a now anonymous man once belonged to a life-size bronze statue. Sunken eyes, a lined face, and a furrowed brow lend the portrait an air of mature gravity. The combination of short, thick, curly hair with a closely cropped beard dates the work to the early third century A.D., when this style of grooming was in fashion. The incision of fine details, such as the strands of the eyebrows and the irises and pupils in the eyes, had long been a regular feature of large-scale portraits in bronze, though by this time the practice had spread to marble statuary, as well.

The right side of the head (above the ear) has been pushed in, and the piece has a dark, greenish black patina.

Provenance

According to Lanciani, Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome (1897), pp. 24-25, the head was found in the Tiber in 1878 and bought many years later by Alessandro Castellani; by date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: Bought in Rome, said to have been found in Tiber) (MFA Bronze catalogue added the location of Ponte Sisto); purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren, October 1896

Credit Line

Catharine Page Perkins Fund