A male portrait head turned slightly right. He has short curly hair, a full curly beard, and a moustache concealing the upper lip. The long face is carefully modelled with pronounced brow and cheek-bones. The surface of the eyes, which are not drilled, have been roughened, perhaps for painting.

It was fashionable during the second century AD for elite Roman men to wear a beard and a full head of curly hair. This was perceived as a Greek habit, and consequently gave the impression of stylish refinement and educated sophistication. Portraits of private individuals like this one would have been inserted into busts or draped statue bodies for display either in civic or funerary contexts. Unusually, a portrait in the Musee du Louvre in Paris depicts the same subject and was likely carved by the same sculptor: although the man’s identity is no longer known, this suggests he was an important figure. Here, the curls have been rendered using distinctive drill-marks characteristic of work made during the Antonine and Severan periods.


  • Title: Portrait Head of a Man
  • Physical Dimensions: 15 x 8 x 10 in. (38.1 x 20.3 x 25.4 cm)
  • Provenance: Ex coll. Alistair McAlpine, Baron McAlpine of West Green (1942-2014), United Kingdom, acquired from K. John Hewett (1919-1994), England, 1963. Purchased by Rupert Wace Ancient Art, London, England, from Lord MacAlpine. Purchased by the MCCM from Rupert Wace.
  • Subject Keywords: Sculpture
  • Rights: © Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White
  • External Link: https://collections.carlos.emory.edu/objects/11615/
  • Medium: Marble (Dokimeion)
  • Art Movement: Roman
  • Period/Style: Antonine
  • Dates: late 2nd Century AD
  • Classification: Greek and Roman Art

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