Roman Marble Portrait of Emperor Aurelian
An ancient Roman marble portrait head of a man, likely Emperor Aurelian, portrayed bearded with short cropped thinning hair, his head turned to the left, his gaze upward. The eyes are drilled, the forehead is engraved with horizontal wrinkles, and the eminent the eyebrows emphatically sculpted. The cheeks are hollow with salient cheekbones; the short hair, mustache and beard, directly incised on the surface of the stone. The foundation of the neck is rounded up for insertion into a statue.
Ca. 270 - 275 AD
Lucius Domitius Aurelianus (214 - 275 AD) reigned during the Crisis of the Third Century, from 270 to 275. Of humble origins, he entered the Roman military in 235, and rose through the ranks, eventually leading the cavalry of emperor Gallienus. As emperor, Aurelian won an unprecedented series of military victories successfully reunited the Roman Empire by defeating the Alemanni, the Goths, the Vandals, and the Gallic Empire in the west and the Sarmatians and Palmyrene Empire in the east, as well as quelling internal revolts. He was responsible for the construction of the Aurelian Walls in Rome, and monetary reform, trying to curb the devaluation of the Roman currency. He thus gained the title Restitutor Orbis, "Restorer of the World."
cf.: for a very similar portrait identified as Aurelian by Helga von Heintze, Moi, Z?nobie, Reine de Palmyre, catalogue of exhibition, (Paris, 2001), pp. 249 and 341, no. 134. Also and gilded bronze head of Aurelian in the Museo di Santa Giulia, Brescia, Italy.
Formerly in a Belgian private collection.
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