Portrait bust of a man
1st- 2nd Century A.D
Portrait bust of a man
Most likely depicting a well-to-do private individual, as someone who could afford such a high-quality portrait. He seems to be a youthful ‘foreign’ man, possibly from the Arabian Peninsula as suggested by his facial characteristics. Although his hair is coiled with tight curls, this is not an indicator of race, but more of the styling choices from the period of creation. The locks further back on the right side and at the lower back of the head were more summarily carved, since these areas of the head were not as visible when this sculpture was set near a wall or in a niche. His hairline is rather unique with a large widow’s peak, his imposing face is somewhat serious and severe, with creases above his brow and downturned lips. It was during the Antonine period that this veristic posing became widely used, expressionless, placid and smooth skinned faces became replaced by those lined in age, emotion and expression. His facial hair is subtly rendered with curled stubble around the jaw line and the suggestion of a moustache, very similar to styling of the 2nd Century depiction of the Roman Emperor Commodus now kept at the J.P Getty Museum, L.A. He is draped in a thick fabric exomis or chiton, his chest left bare, another feature of the period. The subtle contouring of his sternum giving a particularly lifelike quality. This sculpture is very well preserved, with a pink-beige coloured patina and some mottling of the surface. There are only two small naturally occurring interstices under the inner corner of the left eye and to the right under the outside corner of the same eye. These interstices would have been filled in with marble-dust stucco and smoothed over. The entire head would then have been painted, as was the norm in sculpture in antiquity.
‘The Acquisitive Eye’, House & Garden, March 1985, p. 104
John Richardson: at Home, Rizzoli, New York, 2019, p. 106
Previously in a 17th- or 18th-century European Private Collection (based on restoration techniques and handwritten note which may refer to an old inventory number).
Private Collection of Sir John Richardson (1924–2019) from at least 1985 (there is a photo of the bust in Richardson’s home taken ca. March 1985). He eclectically collected art from antiquity to contemporary throughout his life.