The Getty Museum to Acquire Ancient Portrait Bust of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius

Feb 12, 2023 588

The Getty Museum is set to acquire an over-life-size ancient Roman marble bust of the emperor Antoninus Pius (ruled AD 138-161). The work was purchased at auction in December; its final acquisition is subject to an export license being granted by the Arts Council England. A prime example of Antoninus Pius’ main portrait type, the bust was created sometime after he ascended the throne in AD 138.

With minor variations, this portrait type remained the emperor’s official image throughout his reign until AD 161. Carved from a single block of fine-grained white marble, the bust shows the emperor as a mature man with distinct facial features, a full, neatly trimmed beard, and thick curly hair. He wears a tunic, a cuirass (body armor), and a fringed paludamentum (a general’s cloak) folded in half and pinned at his right shoulder.

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