This head recalls several portraits tentatively identified as Hephaestion, the companion of Alexander the Great. Hephaestion (circa 356-324 B.C.) was a Macedonian nobleman and the intimate of Alexander. Pliny, Tatian and Lucian each tell of portraits of the young man, produced by artists such as Lysippos, Philon and Aetion (p. 453 in Stewart, Faces of Power: Alexander's Image and the Hellenistic Politics). While some were commissioned during his life, portraits of Hephaestion were more prevalent after his death. Some were demanded by Alexander to heroize his companion, some were gifted by the court to gain Alexander's favor and others were created later in the Hellenistic period to commemorate Alexander's court.
According to Stewart (pp. 453-454, op. cit.), the only securely identified portrait of Hephaestion is on a late 4th century votive relief from Thessaloniki, identified through the inscription. However, it is generic and provides few clues as to his actual physiognomy. Other likely portraits are a head now at the Getty Villa, a head from Kyme now in Istanbul, and the "Demetrio" Hephaestion from Alexandria. These three portraits are all part of sculptural groups dedicated to Alexander the Great that include the ruler with his companion.