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Portrait Head of a Philosopher

A work made of marble.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of marble.


Second half of the 2nd century



About this artwork

The Roman emperor Hadrian (r. A.D. 117–38), who embraced Greek intellectual pursuits, popularized the beard among men young and old, who had previously been clean-shaven. The beard quickly became a fashionable style as well as a sign of one’s interest in classical learning, leading elite Roman men to have themselves portrayed in the guise of philosophers. This portrait of an unidentified man, who wears a full beard and a hairstyle of wavy locks over his forehead, resembles portraits of the Greek philosopher Plato. The introspective eyes, with their heavy lids and drilled pupils, also contribute to the sitter’s intellectual demeanor.


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Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Roman


Portrait Head of a Philosopher


Roman Empire (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.

150 CE–200 CE




33 × 19.1 × 22.9 cm (13 × 7 1/2 × 9 in.)

Credit Line

A. A. Sprague Fund

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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