Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Preview image of work. marble,  Portrait Head of Emperor Antoninus Pius 1040

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Portrait Head of Emperor Antoninus Pius


Artist Unidentified (Roman)


Portrait Head of Emperor Antoninus Pius

Creation Date

ca. 138-150


2nd century


14 15/16 in. x 8 3/16 in. x 8 11/16 in. (38 cm x 20.8 cm x 22.07 cm)



Creation Place

Ancient Mediterranean

Medium and Support


Credit Line

Gift of Edward Perry Warren, Esq., Honorary Degree, 1926


Public Domain

Accession Number


This portrait of the emperor Antoninus Pius was sculpted using marble from the Aegean island of Paros, one of the most-prized varieties known in antiquity. The fine grain of the stone permits the rendering of intricate detail seen in the treatment of the hair and lends itself to the high polish applied to the skin of the portrait. In addition, the sculptor used a “running drill,” an early mechanical carving tool, to shape the locks of hair and to delineate the pupils of the eyes. Paint, traces of which are still visible, was added to highlight the hair and eyes to make the portrait appear more life-like. The rich treatment of the carving would have been augmented by the addition of metal wreath or crown. From back to front, Antoninus Pius was intended to be seen from all sides.

Additional Media

Additional Image left side
left side
Additional Image back
Additional Image right side
right side

Keywords: portraits