Roman marble portrait relief of a young Lucius Verus
Roman, c. 140-150 AD
Width: 19.7 cm; Height: 13.9 cm
Provenance: Collection of René Withofs (1919-1997), Brussels; French collection
This handsome portrait of the young prince is carved in relief, with rounded face and softly modelled features, including a smooth brow, full lips, and wide eyes with drilled pupils and incised lids and irises. The face is framed by a mass of curled locks that fall onto the forehead and down over the ears, his gaze lifted upwards and turned slightly to the right.
The crown of the head has been levelled and smoothed at the hairline, suggesting that the main body of the hair was completed in a different material, and plausibly also wore a diadem. The back of the head has also been levelled and smoothed, with two drilled holes for attachment, indicating it may have been inserted into a composite sculpture or else fixed to a panel.
Literature: For the portrait type, compare a marble bust of the young Lucius Verus in Copenhagen (Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek, inv. no. IN 787, and another excavated at Ostia (Museo Archeologico Ostiense, inv. no. 47). A third head from the nymphaeum of Regilla at Olympia shows the prince wearing a diadem decorated with laurel leaves. Two Hadrianic-era portraits of Vestal Virgins in the Palatine Museum, Rome are similarly carved in high relief and attached to marble panels, indicating how the head may have been displayed.