Balbinus (?)

Late Imperial Period
about A.D. 238, reworked from a portrait from the early 2nd century A.D.

Place of Manufacture: Italy, Lazio, Rome

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 375; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 116 (additional published references).


52 x 22 cm (20 1/2 x 8 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble from Göktepe, Turkey (near Aphrodisias)

On View

Michael C. Ruettgers Gallery (Gallery 212C)


The Ancient World



This was a funerary bust of the Trajanic period which was recarved around A.D. 238. The current portrait has long been identified as the Emperor Decimus Caelius Balbinus, who briefly ruled as co-emperor with the general Pupienus in A.D. 238. The paludamentum fastened by a brooch on the left shoulder is always a sign of high authority, and the griffins flanking the acanthus ornament below the chest may be symbols of imperial apotheosis. It is also possible that this is an unknown individual who is presented in the same manner as Balbinus.

The end of the nose and the rims of both ears have been damaged. The base of the bust is missing, and there is other minor damage, particularly to the acanthus leaves supporting the chest. The surfaces have a light yellow coloring.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8442: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.8 / delta18O -2.6,

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


By 1888: with Eliseo Borghi (said to have been found in the new quarter of the Ludovisi villa, in the garden of Sallust, in Rome); purchased by R. Lanciani from Eliseo Borghi; 1888: purchased by MFA from R. Lanciani for $491.89 (this is the total purchase price for MFA 88.346–530)

Credit Line

Everett Fund