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Cameo Portraying Emperor Claudius as Jupiter

A work made of cameo: sardonyx
mount: gold, pearls, and enamel.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of cameo: sardonyx
mount: gold, pearls, and enamel.


Cameo: Roman, mid-first century
Mount: Italian, late 16th century


Roman; Italy

About this artwork

This intricate cameo is carved from a piece of sardonyx, a mineral composed of parallel colored bands. The figure at the center is depicted with the portrait head of an emperor from the Julio-Claudian dynasty (27 BCE–68 CE) and the idealized, partially nude body of the supreme deity Jupiter (the Greek god Zeus). He holds the god’s scepter and thunderbolt while an eagle, Jupiter’s companion animal, perches at his feet. Created for circulation among members of the imperial court, the cameo boldly equated the ruler’s power over the Roman Empire to that of Jupiter over the entire cosmos.


On View, Gallery 150


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Roman


Cameo Portraying Emperor Claudius as Jupiter


Italy (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

41 CE–54 CE


Cameo: sardonyx Mount: gold, pearls, and enamel


7.6 × 5.7 × 0.8 cm (3 × 2 1/4 × 11 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Marilynn B. Alsdorf

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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