Portrait of a man

Imperial Period
about A.D. 250–260

Place of Manufacture: Italy, Lazio

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 377; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 116 (additional published references).


Height: 39.4 cm (15 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, probably from the Greek island of Paros

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)


The Ancient World



The portrait has been executed in a style influenced by Antonine imperial heads, notably likenesses of the Emperors Antoninus Pius (138-161) and Marcus Aurelius (161-180). However, the details of the large eyes, the half-moon pupils and heavy lids, and the frozen quality imparted to hair and beard by the technique of sharply separating the locks indicate that this head was carved in the period of the second or third quarters of the 3rd century A.D.

The hair and beard were bored and carved out, with tiny struts visible between the locks and curls. The face, ears, and neck were finished in a high polish. Parts of the ears and hair have been broken away. The left side of the face is covered by a hard, pebbly deposit, partly cleaned with acid. There are remains of a high polish on the surfaces of the skin or flesh.


By date unknown: with Hesperia Art, 2219 St. James Place, Philadelphia 3, Pa. (according to a letter dated May 31, 1958: from Isola Sacra in the Tiber near Ostia); purchased by MFA from Hesperia Art, November 13, 1958, for $ 5,000.00

Credit Line

Otis Norcross Fund