Marble bust of a bearded man


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 162

This bust of a vigorous middle-aged man with sharply turned head and piercing gaze is a splendid example of psychological portraiture and conveys an impression of intense concentration. Like numerous portraits of the mid-second century A.D., this work shares many features with the type of portrait used to represent philosophers throughout antiquity. It is unlikely, however, that the man shown here followed that profession. The bust was designed to be seen strictly from the front. The top and back of the head, the rear of the neck, and the reverse of the breast are only roughly blocked out. Since the back of the bust has not been hollowed out to provide for a supporting pillar and base, it is likely that the portrait was inserted into a marble tondo and displayed rather high on a wall.

Marble bust of a bearded man, Marble, Roman

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