History seems to have had a bitter love affair with the emperor Caracalla. He is described in the Historia Augusta to have had an evil mode of life. 'He was gluttonous in his use of food and addicted to wine, hated by his household and detested in every camp save that of the praetorian guard' (quoted in Scarre, loc. cit). Yet also attributed to his name is the architectural splendour of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and many military victories including those against Germany in AD 213 and the Parthians in AD 216. He is commonly represented looking to sinister with square and heavy features and his trademark frowning brow. Antique versions of his portrait can be seen in the Museo Nazzionale, Naples and the British Museum, London.
In the early 19th century Benedetto Boschetti fed the growing demand for high quality works of art with an antique theme created by an influx of grand tourists, many of whom were English. Little is known about his life, but he is known to have worked out of his workshops in the centre of Rome where he produced a large number of classically inspired objects ranging from bronzes to tabletops and mosaics. One of his finest examples of the latter is now in the Gilbert Collection, Los Angeles (see A.Gonzalez-Palacios, loc. cit). His signed works in bronze, including this bust, have the inscription 'B. Boschetti Roma'; similarly marked pieces are a bronze figure of Sophocles sold in these Rooms in 7th July 1998, lot 114 and a bronze figure of the Apollo Belvedere sold in Christie's, New York, 5th November 1992, lot 1.