Portrait of a small boy

Roman
Imperial Period
about A.D. 50


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 341; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 114 (additional published references).

Dimensions

Height x length (of face): 24.5 x 9.2 cm (9 5/8 x 3 5/8 in.)

Accession Number

01.8202

Medium or Technique

Marble, seemingly from the Greek islands

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Religious and cult objects

This is the portrait of a boy two to three years old; the plump cheeks indicate that he could hardly be older. The fact that the bust is draped and includes more of the breast than is usual in the Julio-Claudian period suggests that the portrait is to be dated in the second half of the first century A.D. The bust could have been inserted in a rectangular terminal shaft running to the ground.

Portraits of the very young Nero (or Britannicus) about A.D. 50 parallel this likeness of an anonymous child in arrangement of the hair, drapery, and in stylistic details. A bust of a baby boy in Copenhagen, originally from the tomb of the Licinian family at Rome, has a general form and specific details that hardly differ from those of the Boston boy, emphasizing the timeless qualities of these early imperial child portraits. The Copenhagen portrait has been dated either to about 25 B.C. or A.D. 40.

Only the tip of the nose is missing; the edges of the drapery show slight damage. The surface has taken on a slightly shiny quality, from cleansing with acid.

Provenance

By 1901, purchased in Naples by Edward Perry Warren (b. 1860 - d. 1928), London [see note]; 1901, sold by Edward Perry Warren to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 1, 1901)

NOTE: According to Warren's records.

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund