About This Artwork


Fragment of a Portrait Head of Antinous, Mid–2nd century AD

31.7 x 31 x 17 cm (12 1/2 x 12 x 6 1/2 in.)

Gift of Mrs. Charles L. Hutchinson, 1924.979

This portrait depicts Antinous (c. A.D. 110–30), the handsome, youthful companion of the Roman emperor Hadrian (r. A.D. 117–38). He is immediately identifiable by his round face, deep-set eyes, bow-shaped mouth, and layers of thick, wavy hair. Although Hadrian had long been married to Sabina (c. A.D. 83–136 or 137), he is thought to have shared an intimate relationship with the young man in the spirit of the Greek aristocratic tradition of erotic love between a man and a male youth. The two spent several years traveling the Roman Empire together until Antinous drowned in the Nile River in 130. Devastated by his companion’s untimely death, Hadrian founded a city named Antinoupolis on the east bank of the Nile and had the young man deified, after which he established a cult in his honor. Hadrian also ordered sculptures of Antinous to be erected across the Roman Empire. This fragmentary head comes from a portrait bust of Antinous, which was likely displayed in Rome following his death.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, Sculpture From the Classical Collection, Gallery 101A, September 1, 1987 - August 31, 1988, no cat.

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago’s Dream, a World’s Treasure: The Art Institute, 1893–2007, Nov. 1, 1993–Jan. 9, 1994, not in cat.

Art Institute of Chicago, Death on the Nile, Mar. 15–Apr. 17, 2008, no cat.

Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 156, April 20, 1994 - February 6, 2012.

Art Institute of Chicago, Of Gods and Glamour: The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, Gallery 152, November 11, 2012 - present.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Portrait of Antinous, in Two Parts, Gallery 154, April 2 - September 5, 2016, no cat.

Museo Nazionale Romano in Palazzo Altemps, Rome, Italy, Antinoo, un ritratto in due parti, September 14, 2016–January 15, 2017, no cat.

Publication History

Karen Manchester, “Cat. 9 Fragment of a Portrait Head of Antinous: Curatorial Entry,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).

Rachel C. Sabino and John Twilley, with contributions by Lorenzo Lazzarini, “Cat. 9 Fragment of a Portrait Head of Antinous: Technical Report,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).

Karen B. Alexander, “From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago,” in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, ed. Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago, 2012), p. 31, fig. 15.

Cornelius C. Vermeule III, “Faces of Empire,” Celator 19, 12 (Dec. 2005), p. 24, fig. 4.

Cornelius C. Vermeule III, “Roman Imperial Persons in North America,” Celator 17, 12 (Dec. 2003), p. 30.

“La Casa delle Collezioni (The House of Collections),” Domus (Aug.–Sept. 1983), pp. 34–35 (ill.).

“City Spaces: Henry Geldzahler,” Brutus (Burutasu) 50 (Sept. 15, 1982), p. 48 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, “Back Matter,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago vol. 23, no. 1 (January 1929), p. 12.

Frank B. Tarbell, “A Marble Head of Antinous belonging to Mr. Charles L. Hutchinson of Chicago,” Art in America, II (1913), pp. 68-71.

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