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Marble portrait of the emperor Caracalla

A.D. 212–217
H. 14 1/4 in. ( 36.2 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Samuel D. Lee Fund, 1940
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Caracalla took the official name of M. Aurelius Antoninus Pius as part of the Severan dynasty’s attempt to appear as the legitimate and worthy successors of the secondcentury Antonine emperors. Despite this, in his official portraiture, he abandoned the luxuriant hair and beard of his predecessors for a military style characterized by closely cropped curls and a stubble beard. An ancient source records that on his deathbed, his father Septimius Severus advised Caracalla to “enrich the soldiers and despise everyone else.” This finely carved head is a powerful rendering of the official portrait and was probably produced at an imperial
    workshop, since the statue fragments are said to have been found in Rome. It is from a statue, the legs of which also survive and are displayed in the Study Collection on the Mezzanine Floor.

  • Provenance

    Said to be from Rome

    Acquired January 15, 1940, purchased from H.P. L'Orange, Oslo.

  • References

    Bandinelli, Ranuccio Bianchi. 1958. Enciclopedia dell'Arte Antica, Classica e Orientale, Vol. 2. Rome: Instituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, p. 338, fig. 448.

    Bergmann, Marianne. 1977. Studien zum römischen Porträt des 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. Bonn: Habelt, p. 12, 202.

    von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1978. Antichnoe iskusstvo iz muzeia Metropoliten, Soedinennye Shtaty Ameriki: Katalog vystavki. Moscow: Sovetskii Khudozhnik, no. 99, pl. 27.

    Levi, Peter. 1980. Atlas of the Greek World. Oxford: Phaidon Press, p. 206.

    Wood, Susan. 1982. "The Bust of Philip the Arab in the Vatican: A Case for the Defense." American Journal of Archaeology, 86(2): p. 245, fig. 4, pl. 40.

    Huskinson, Janet. 2005. "Art and Architecture, A.D. 193-337." The Crisis of Empire, A.D. 193-337, The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. 12, Alan K. Bowman, Peter Garnsey, and Averil Cameron, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 685-86, fig. 7.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 454, pp. 389, 494.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History