Marble, pigment, gilding; H. 46 in. (116.8 cm)
Bequest of Bill Blass, 2002 (2003.407.9)
Although headless, this powerful Roman portrait statue immediately communicates the impressive grandeur of its subject. In antiquity, this statue was paired with a similar figure, now also in the Metropolitan Museum (2002.407.8a,b), which together probably formed part of a statuary group honoring the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Gaius and Lucius, the adopted grandsons of the emperor Augustus, are most likely represented.
The figure is depicted in the semi-nude fashion of Greek heroes. His muscular body conveys his youthful, athletic vigor, and he wears a Greek mantle, masterfully carved with deep, slender folds of drapery. The lower edge of the garment preserves a painted narrow purple band that, on close examination, retains vestiges of gold leaf. This gilding sought to evoke the luxurious embroidered gold-thread brocade of the finest textiles.