Marble portrait of the emperor Augustus


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 166

When Octavian took the title of Augustus in 27 B.C., an official portrait was created that embodied the qualities he wished to project, and hundreds of versions of it were disseminated throughout the Empire. The features are individualized, but the overall effect is of calm, elevated dignity and brings to mind Classical Greek art of the fifth century B.C. With this studied understatement, the portraits could evoke the values of the glorious past of Athens and at the same time present the emperor simply as primus inter pares, first among equals.

Marble portrait of the emperor Augustus, Marble, Roman

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