Early 1st century A.D.
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 327; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 114 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 174.
Height x length (of face): 31 x 20 cm (12 3/16 x 7 7/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble, fine-grained Italian
Michael C. Ruettgers Gallery for Ancient Coins (Gallery 212C)
This portrait of Rome’s first emperor (27 B.C.-A.D. 14) belongs to a group sometimes known as the Forbes type. This type is more classicizing than earlier portraits of Augustus, perhaps because he wished to present himself as a bringer of stability and calm after a period of civil war. The MFA’s version of the type was probably inserted into a statue of Augustus wearing a toga and has been dated to the early first century A.D. on the basis of the looser treatment of the locks of hair and the lack of individualized strands of hair.
A large part of the left side of the crown of the head has been lost by an oblique fracture; there is a break at the base of the neck. The end of the nose is missing; both ears have been injured; and there is some incrustation on the surfaces of the face.
By date unknown: Edward Waldo Forbes Collection (according to the Registrar's records: purchased by him in Rome); gift of Edward Waldo Forbes to MFA, December 1, 1906
Gift of Edward Waldo Forbes