Portrait head of a man with curly hair

Roman Provincial?
Imperial Period, Early Flavian
A.D. 69–79

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 344; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 115 (additional published references).


Height: 31 cm (12 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, Dolomitic from the Greek island of Thasos

Not On View


The Ancient World



This portrait head is probably from a statue. Despite the damages, a lively sense of the sitter’s pleasant yet shrewd personality comes through to us, the broad forehead with its wrinkles and curly hair, and the little chin set amid folds of flesh. The face and surrounding hair have caught the new Flavian restlessness in sculptural style; the back half of the head still manifests the flat, tightly curled hair of a Julio-Claudian court portrait. This portrait, then, is a creation of the decade when the Flavian styles of sculptural richness were being formed and first exploited.
Nose, chin, and a piece at the side of the neck have been broken away or damaged. The ears have suffered in a similar fashion. The surfaces are worn and weathered, perhaps both in antiquity and in a recent setting. There are remains of a black deposit in the hair and pitting on the face.

Scientific Analysis:
Marble has been scientifically tested with X-Ray Diffraction and determined to be Dolomitic.
Harvard Lab No. HI111: Isotope ratios - delta13C +3.58 / delta18O -3.09, Attribution - Thasos-Cape Vathy, Justification - Dolomitic by XRD.


By date unknown: said to be in the Somzée Collection; by 1962 with Mario Barsanti, Rome, Italy (acquired from Renê Withofs of Brussels); 1962: purchased by Horace L. Mayer from Mario Barsanti; August 11, 1962: loaned by Horace L. Mayer to MFA (as 158.62); year-end gift of Horace L. Mayer to MFA, December 26, 1963

Credit Line

Gift of Horace L. Mayer