Period: Mid-Imperial, Antonine
Date: A.D. 161–169
Dimensions: H. 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm)
Classification: Stone Sculpture
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1913
Accession Number: 13.227.1
After Antoninus' death, imperial power was for the first time shared between two co-emperors, his adoptive sons Marcus Aurelius (r. A.D.161–80) and Lucius Verus (r. A.D.161–69). Although relatively weak and a poor administrator, Verus waged a successful war against Parthia and captured Ctesiphon. In this portrait, the face of the emperor assumes a meditative expression with a prominent brow that overshadows his heavy-lidded eyes. His features reflect the mid-Antonine revival of the style of fourth-century B.C. Greek sculpture like the Vatican Meleager. The replication of such elegant Greek originals may have also contributed to the dramatic contrast between smooth skin and drilled locks of hair so typical of sculpture from this period. This portrait comes from a relief that may have been part of an ambitious historical monument, perhaps commemorating the emperor's successful campaign against Parthia.