Portrait Head of a Priest or Magistrate

UnknownRoman, Late 3rd century AD

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum

Commemorative portraiture of the Roman Imperial era (31 B.C.–A.D. 330) took a wide variety of forms. Statues of the emperor himself or of other high court officials, dressed in a toga or outfitted in full armor, were commonly displayed in temples and public squares or marketplaces. Another popular commemorative format was the portrait bust, a type ideally suited for placement in the decorative recesses of private homes or family tombs.

The portrait bust shown here expresses intense concentration, conveyed through the piercing, wide-eyed gaze and the tense, muscular structure of the face. The cylindrical crown or diadem identifies the sitter as a man of priestly or magisterial rank. The portrait may have been commissioned by the dedicant himself, or (more probably) by the city or municipality in which he served. Its style dates the work to the late third century.

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  • Title: Portrait Head of a Priest or Magistrate
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Roman, Late 3rd century AD
  • Location: Greece or Asia Minor
  • Physical Dimensions: Object:14 9/16 x 8 3/4 x 7 1/16in. (37 x 22.2 x 18cm) With Mount: 16 15/16 x 9 15/16 x 8 15/16in. (43 x 25.3 x 22.7cm)
  • Credit Line: Bequest of William H. Chatfield
  • Accession Number: 1973.292
  • Type: Stone/Sculpture
  • Medium: marble


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