Portrait of a man of intellect

Roman, Eastern Mediterranean
Late Imperial Period
A.D. 275–325


Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 381; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 116 (additional published references).

Dimensions

Height: 46.3 cm (18 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

62.465

Medium or Technique

Marble from Mt. Pentelikon, near Athens

Not On View

Collections

Europe, The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

The head must have been fitted into a body wearing a tunic and wrapped in a mantle that came high up behind the figure’s neck. Long beards were somewhat unfashionable in ruling circles, and the long beard here may well indicate that the man was a philosopher in the ancient Greek tradition. Athens was a center of philosophic education in late Antiquity as it had been throughout its history. The man’s short haircut, which has military and athletic suggestions rare at the time, and the intense, emphatically outlined eyes give the head an exceptionally forceful presence.
The nose and the right eye have been damaged. The hair and beard exhibit some abrasions and traces of a cement deposit. Otherwise, the surfaces are in good condition and have a light yellow patina.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8445: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.3 / delta18O -7.3

Attribution - Mt. Pentelikon near Athens. Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain, pure white, said to be from Athens

Provenance

By date unknown: said to have been found in a well at Agia Paraskevi close to Athens, in the area of an Early Christian basilica; by 1962: with J. J. Klejman, 982 Madison Avenue, New York; purchased by MFA from J. J. Klejman, May 9, 1962

Credit Line

John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund