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About This Artwork
Head of a Youth, 1st century A.D.
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.
Alexander, Karen B. 2012. "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, pp.18-19. Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press.