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A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPEROR SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS
A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPEROR SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS

CIRCA 194 A.D.

Details
A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPEROR SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS
Circa 194 A.D.
Turned sharply to his right on his strong, contoured neck, the head slightly over-lifesized, his hair a mass of with thick curls defined by drill work and fine incision for the individual strands, with a broad forehead, his eyebrows incised, with large almond-shaped convex eyes, the pupils articulated with his gaze upward, the tear ducts defined, with heavy upper lids, his thick moustache surrounding the small sensuously-modelled mouth, his characteristic beard full and long, the growth from his chin emerging into ringlets, designed to be set into a composite statue
16¼ in. (41.3 cm.) high
Provenance
European Private Collection, acquired in the 1980s.

Lot Essay

Lucius Septimius Severus (reigned 193-211 A.D.) emerged as a military leader and was declared emperor in 193 A.D. Born in Leptis Magna, North Africa, and a veteran of several campaigns along the frontier of the empire, he sought to solidify his power within Rome by linking his family and future dynasty with that of the Antonines. In 196 A.D. he had himself retroactively adopted into the Antonine family. He then had his young son, Caracalla, declared Caesar in order to ensure his succession.

Modern scholarship has assigned the Emperor's portrait types to four distinct groups. Ours can be joined to the earliest portraits, the 'Accession type,' commissioned during his struggle for sovereignty. These early portraits closely linked the Emperor physically to the Antonines, and most specifically, Antoninus Pius. See p. 319-320 in Kleiner, Roman Sculpture and ch. 4 in McAnn, "The Portraits of Septimius (AD 193-211)," Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome.
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