Imperial Period
A.D. 69–75, reworked from a portrait of A.D. 64–68

Place of Manufacture: Italy, Lazio, Tusculum

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 345; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 115 (additional published references).


35 x 17 cm (13 3/4 x 6 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, from Carrara in northwest Italy

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)


The Ancient World



Domitian (Emperor A.D. 81-96) is the subject of this life-sized portrait, probably made about A.D. 69-75 when his father Vespasian and his brother Titus were co-emperors. The large ears, the fleshy eyes with small upper lids and heavy lower ones, and the style of the hair around the ears show that the portrait was originally of the Emperor Nero (A.D. 54-68) and was probably executed is the last four years of his reign. After Nero’s death, the similarities in appearance between Nero and Domitian (at that time an imperial prince) allowed this portrait to be recut into an image of Domitian.

The Neronian hairstyle and the full hair over the temples suggest that this portrait is probably one of the earlier types of Domitian’s portraiture, executed between A.D. 69 and A.D. 75.

The plaster tip of the nose has now been removed; the face and hair have been cleaned. The neck was worked for insertion in a togate statue.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8426: Isotope ratios - delta13C +1.8 / delta18O -1.5,

Attribution - Carrara. Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain


By 1888: with Alessandro Fausti (said to have been found at Frascati, in the ruins of Domitian's villa Tusculum; later in the municipal collection at Frascati); purchased from Alessandro Fausti by R. Lanciani; purchased by MFA from R. Lanciani, 1888, for $493.92 (this figure is the total price of MFA 88.538–88.644 and 89.9–89.31)

Credit Line

Benjamin Pierce Cheney Donation