About This Artwork


Portrait Head of a Youth, AD 14/68, reworked by the late 4th/early 5th century AD

35.6 x 21.6 x 16.5 cm (14 x 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 in.)

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1889.105

In the Roman world, portraits were often recarved in order to alter the sculpture’s function, meaning, or identity. It is possible that this portrait head was altered at a later date because it includes features associated with different periods. The man’s hairstyle, with locks of hair neatly arranged across the forehead, recalls those worn by men during the Julio-Claudian dynasty (27 B.C.–A.D. 68) and again during the reign of the emperor Trajan (A.D. 98–117). However, the drill marks in his large eyes were likely added at a later date, perhaps even centuries later, when the recarving of portraits became a much more common practice due to shortages of marble.

—Permanent collection label

This work appears in the online catalogue Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring art historical essays and conservation reports on artworks from the ancient Roman world in the Art Institute’s collection. Entries include new high-resolution photography, stunning 360-degree views of the works, and in-depth technical imaging and analysis. The volume is free to the public.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The 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-April 24, 2017.

Publication History

Katharine A. Raff, “Cat. 16 Portrait Head of a Youth: Curatorial Entry,” 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, by Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), pp. 18-19.

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