Roman Empire, reign of Severus Alexander (222-235 C.E.)
Portrait of the Emperor Severus Alexander as a Youth
26.5 x 18 x 21 cm (without base)
Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1968.1600
Archeology and World Cultures
So interested were the Romans in the sculpted portrait that, while the bodies of life-sized statues might be mass-produced, provision would be made for inserting an individually carved portrait head onto the shoulders. From the first century B.C.E. through the third century C.E., portraits carved in stone (generally marble) were prominent political and military figures, with members of the imperial family increasingly dominating from the late first century B.C.E. The realism of the portraits died out somewhat in the fourth and fifth centuries C.E., with the introduction of frontality and the resulting flatness of faces. This sculpture is of the emperor Alexander Severus as an adolescent. This portrait is the period when short-cropped hair and clean-shaven faces were the fashion for men.