Portrait of a man (Drusus Caesar?)

Roman
Imperial Period
about A.D. 30, reworked about A.D. 33


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 331; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 114 (additional published references).

Dimensions

Height: 37.5 cm (14 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

1971.393

Medium or Technique

Marble, probably from the Greek island of Paros

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

Bust of a Julio-Claudian man. The original subject of this bust might be the imperial prince Drusus Caesar, brother of the Emperor Caligula. Portraits of Drusus Caesar show him with a hairstyle that has locks curving out from a central fork with a small ‘pincer’ lock on the right corner of the hairline and none on the left. Originally, this hairstyle was present here; however, the hair above the forehead has been chiseled away by someone using both a pointed and a toothed chisel. The new face bears some resemblance to the Emperor Claudius in its oval shape and also the Emperor Caligula in terms of its unusual characteristic of having the hair combed back instead of forward and down from the crown of the head. A number of Roman portraits were recarved in antiquity, particularly of individuals who had fallen out of imperial favor.

The neck, which has been broken across the front, was worked for insertion in a draped (or draped and cuirassed) statue or bust. The ears are chipped, and the crown of the head has been damaged slightly. Otherwise, allowing for the alterations mentioned in the description above, the head is in excellent condition, with an irregular but attractive yellow patina.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8422: Isotope ratios - delta13C +5.4 / delta18O -3.1,

Attribution - Paros 1 (Marathi). Justification - C and O isotopes

Provenance

Said to have been found at Marmaris (ancient Physkos) on the southern coast of Caria. Said to have been acquired from an English estate by Kenneth John Hewett (dealer; b. 1919 - d. 1994), London; sold by Hewett to Robert E. Hecht, Jr.; 1971, sold by Robert Hecht to the MFA. (Accession Date: November 10, 1971)

Credit Line

Edwin E. Jack Fund