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Hadrian, emperor from 117 to 138, had a reverence for Greek art and culture; depictions of Greek philosophers with beards may have inspired him to introduce bearded portraits of himself, like this one, which probably dates from the early part of his reign. His armour too is decorated with Tritons and a Gorgon’s head, both reminiscent of earlier Greek motifs.

There were a number of other innovations to Roman portraiture at the time of Hadrian. The running drill was use to carve hair and other details; busts extended downwards to include the upper arms; and the pupils of eyes were usually drilled out, though not in the example here

Location of Original: 

Rome, Vatican, Museo Chiaramonti 392


Purchased in 1884 from Malpieri of Rome (?)


Amelung: Catalogue of the Vatican Museum I (1903), 566, no.362, pl. 59
Walston: Catalogue of Casts in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (1889), 116, no.614 (?)
Reporter: 19 June 1885, 895, no.539 (?)

Early C2 CE

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