Portrait of young Elagabalus

Roman
Imperial Period
A.D. 218–224


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), no. 051.

Dimensions

Height: 71 cm (27 15/16 in.)

Accession Number

1977.337

Medium or Technique

Marble from Göktepe, Turkey (near Aphrodisias)

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

This is an early portrait bust of Emperor Elagabalus (A.D. 218-222), who became emperor at the age of fifteen. He wears a banded toga with a board-like fold running across the chest, which is sometimes termed a toga contabulata in modern scholarship. This style of toga first appears in the second century A.D. and became the most common form of the toga in the third and fourth centuries despite the difficulty of producing and maintaining the band (see Tertullian, De Pallio 5).

Most of the nose is missing, and the break in right shoulder goes through to back and toward the left shoulder. There is a second break closer to end of the right shoulder; both breaks have been repaired. The surface still retains polish in some areas, and there are some stains and root marks on the face, and reddish spots on the right chest and in the folds over the right arm.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8439: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.6 / delta18O -2.7.

Attribution - Göktepe 3-4, Turkey (near Aphrodisias). Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain, pure white, considerable translucence

Provenance

By 1977: Antiken, H. Herzer & Co., Promenadeplatz 13, 8 Munich 2, Germany (from a private collection in Germany and thought originally to have come from Rome); purchased by MFA from Antiken, H. Herzer & Co., June 9, 1977

Credit Line

Mary S. and Edward Jackson Holmes Fund