This imperial portrait head originates from
of the North African provinces of the Roman
Empire. From the time of Augustus onwards
imperial family and its circle monopolised
public statuary. Imperial portraits were
in sebasteia, or temples of the imperial cult.
Along with coins, sculpture was the preferred
means of disseminating the emperor’s
Scholars believe that official portraits were
created in the capital city of Rome and
disseminated across the empire to serve as
prototypes for local workshops. Despite this
attempt at uniformity, local stylistic traits
not be suppressed and there was great
variety across the empire.
This marble head represents the Emperor
Augustus (b. 63 B.C.- d. 14 A.D.). The
son of Julius Caesar, Augustus’ long rule
provided stability to the Empire and initiated
period of peace known as the ‘Pax Romana.’
During his reign the process of centralisation
intensified and numerous other
were made including the rebuilding of Rome.
Upon his death he was immediately deified
the Roman Senate and his cult continued to
flourish until the Roman Empire accepted
Christianity in the fourth century A.D.
Consequently many busts and statues of
produced across the Empire.
The imperial biographer Suetonius laid great
stress upon Augustus’ physical beauty. This
comes across in this youthful portrait.
very high relief, rather than in the round, the
block of marble is visible at the level of the
Despite slight damage to the nose and chin,
head is in good condition and would appeal
anyone fascinated by the cult of personality
during the Roman Empire.