about A.D. 130
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 356A; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 115 (additional published references).
Height (max.) x length of face: 50 cm x 30 cm (19 11/16 x 11 13/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble from the Greek island of Thasos
Not On View
The head and neck, over life-sized, were carved to be let into a bust or statue, probably one representing the emperor draped as a Greek magistrate. In proportions of features and details of hairstyle, this portrait closely resembles portraits of Hadrian made in the city of Rome, and it could have been based on a plaster cast of a head of Hadrian shipped from Rome to Egypt. The technique of carving, however, is dry and linear, and little effort was expended on creating a realistic illusion of the texture of hair. Though this portrait from Egypt is a good likeness of Hadrian, it seems relatively schematic, and its expression is harsh compared with images from Rome itself.
The condition, other than some cleaning of the surface patina, is excellent.
Harvard Lab No. HI227: Isotope ratios - delta13C +3.66 / delta18O -2.64,
MFA laboratory: email from Richard Newman to John Herrmann: “The marble is dolomite (determined by Raman spectroscopy). Some gypsum was also detected (from a fill pr surface alteration?).”
Attribution - Thasos 3 (Cape Vathy), Justification - Medium grained marble, dolomite.
By date unknown: said to have been found at Athribis (Benha) near the head of the Nile Delta; by 1937: from the art market in Cairo; by date unknown: with Michel A. Abemayor; April 7, 1975: purchased by MFA from Michel A. Abemayor
Frank B. Bemis Fund