2nd century CE
Hood Museum of Art: Gift of Evelyn A. and William B. Jaffe, Class of 1964H; S.966.138
The facial features of this portrait are unusually flat, while the hair is given more definition on the sides and back of the head. It is possible that this is a result of the sculptor trying to carve a life-size head from a relatively small piece of marble. The handlebar mustache and almond-shaped eyes are typical of the art of Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean. Yet, the general style of this bust reflects the individualistic sculptural tradition of the Roman Empire.
The full beard and the absence of incised pupils in the eyes, suggest that this head was carved early in the reign of the emperor Hadrian (117–138 CE). A full, luxurious beard was a conscious reference to the classical appearance of Greek philosophers and implied the intellectualism of the person. This philhellenic style was made popular by Hadrian, which can be seen in the coin featured in this installation, and was subsequently emulated by contemporary private individuals and successive emperors.
This text was prepared by Mellon Special Projects Curatorial Intern Kasia Vincunas.
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