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A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPRESS FAUSTINA MINOR
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A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPRESS FAUSTINA MINOR\nCIRCA 162-176 A.D.\nLifesized and sensitively sculpted, the Empress portrayed as a mature woman in her thirties, her smooth oval face with a pointed chin, her full bow-shaped lips slightly parted, her characteristic bulging almond-shaped eyes articulated with kidney-shaped pupils and incised irises, her upper lids drooping, the bridge of her slender nose merging with her gracefully-arching brows, their feathering lightly incised, her hair parted in the center and cascading in undulating waves, framing her face and concealing most of her ears, with a thin braid above the waves, all pulled back into an elaborate braided chignon, with a wispy tendril in lower relief before each ear, and a single tendril falling on the left side of her neck\n13½ in. (34.2 cm.) high
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notes

Faustina Minor (the Younger), Annia Galeria Faustina, born circa 125-130 A.D., was the daughter of the Emperor Antoninus Pius and Faustina Major (the Elder). Her great uncle, the Emperor Hadrian, betrothed her to Lucius Verus. However, her father Antoninus favored his wife's nephew, Marcus Aurelius, to whom she was eventually married. Antoninus succeeded Hadrian as Emperor, and eventually Marcus Aurelius inherited the Antonine throne as co-Emperor with Lucius Verus, thereupon Faustina became Augusta or Empress.

Faustina bore at least twelve children for the Emperor, only six of whom survived past youth. Five were girls, with the future Emperor Commodus the only male heir. Their daughter Lucilla was later betrothed to Lucius Verus.

Faustina was beloved by the Roman soldiers, as she accompanied her husband on several military campaigns, and they bestowed her with the title Mater Castrorum or Mother of the Camp. She died in 175 A.D. while abroad at a military camp in Halala in Cappadocia, which was renamed Faustinopolis in her honor. Faustina was buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome and was deified by her devoted husband. Contemporary literature was less kind to Faustina. She was recorded as a murderer, schemer and adulterer. However, Marcus Aurelius defended her vigorously against these claims.

According to Kleiner (Roman Sculpture, p. 277), "female portraiture under the Antonines both resembles and departs from contemporary male portraiture." Their facial features follow the trends of the male portraits, however, while the men are portrayed with deeply drilled full hair, the women's coiffures are carved in the classicizing style of Hadrian's wife Sabina. Furthermore, Kleiner notes (p. 278, op. cit.), "It might well be said that the portraits of Faustina the Younger, with their smooth youthfulness and sectioned coiffure, come as close as any portraits of the second century to resuscitating the Augustan ideals of womanhood."

Portraits of Faustina Minor have been divided into nine main types, signifying events in the Imperial house, and correlating to contemporary coinage. The present example represents her eighth and penultimate portrait type, commemorating the 162 A.D. birth of a son, Marcus Annius Verus, and Marcus Aurelius' 161 A.D. ascension to the throne. For related portraits of the Empress with the same coiffure and features, see pp. 60-62, nos. 1, 3, 9, and 10 in Fittschen, Die Bildnistypen der Faustina minor und die Fecunditas Augustae. The portrait presented here is especially close to the example formerly in the Terme Museum, Rome (Fittschen, no. 3).

title

A ROMAN MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF THE EMPRESS FAUSTINA MINOR

prelot

PROPERTY FROM A FRENCH PRIVATE COLLECTION

keywords

2nd Century, Ancient Art & Antiquities, statue, marble, Rome, Roman

department

Ancient Art & Antiquities

dimensions

13½ in. (34.2 cm.) high

provenance

Acquired by the current owner's family in France in the late 19th to early 20th century.


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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