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Head of Emperor Augustus

25 - 1 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

After many years of civil war, Augustus took complete power in Rome in 27 B.C. He claimed that he was re-establishing the Roman Republic, but he actually founded the Roman Empire. Visual signs emphasizing its power and legitimacy bolstered this new political order. Portraits of Augustus served as symbols of his political agenda rather than corresponding to his physical features as described in written sources. Augustus is always shown in an ideal, classicizing style, and he never ages over the length of his reign. One constant feature of Augustus's portraits is his hairstyle, with its distinctive forked locks of hair on his forehead.

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