Portrait of Faustina the Elder

Unknown140 - 160

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Annia Galeria Faustina, known as Faustina the Elder, was the wife of Antoninus Pius, who ruled the Roman empire from A.D. 137 to 161. She probably married Antoninus Pius about A.D. 110 and they had four children. The marriage appears to have been quite loving compared to others in the Imperial family. Although she died twenty years before him, Antoninus Pius did not remarry. On her death in A.D. 141, Antoninus Pius declared Faustina divine and built a temple in her honor in the Roman Forum.

Portraits of Faustina can be identified by her distinctive hairstyle and facial features. This slightly over life-size statue combines a conventional portrait head for the empress with a standardized body type, referred to as a "Large Herculaneum Woman" by scholars. The size of this statue indicates that it occupied a public space, perhaps a city square or a temple dedicated to the divine Faustina. Although they are now missing, Faustina may have held attributes of poppies and ears of wheat in her lowered left hand. That being the case, this statue would have portrayed the empress in the guise of Ceres, the goddess of fertility.

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  • Title: Portrait of Faustina the Elder
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 140 - 160
  • Location Created: Roman Empire
  • Physical Dimensions: 209 cm (82 5/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Marble
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Female portrait
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 70.AA.113
  • Inscription: Modern inscription at base: FAUSTINA SENIOR
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 207, Women and Children in Antiquity
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Roman
  • Credit Line: Gift of J. Paul Getty
  • Classification: Sculpture