Antonine Boy
Antonine, perhaps ca. A.D. 170-180

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Antonine, perhaps ca. A.D. 170-180


This attractive portrait bust depicts a young boy, perhaps 10 to 13 years of age. His head is tilted slightly and turned to the left. The areas representing skin are highly polished to provide a pleasing contrast with the depictions of hair and cloth. A drill has been used to mark the pupil of each eye. The tousled hair and thin neck are features that give an especially boyish quality to this bust.

It is difficult to identify the portraits of Roman children but, in this case, there is an important clue. The boy wears two garments: a light tunic, visible around his neck and on his right shoulder, and a paludamentum, or military cloak. The paludamentum is fastened with a carved button at the right shoulder. This special cloak was worn only by men of high military rank or by the sons or adoptive sons of the emperor.1 Certain stylistic features of this portrait (especially the position of the head, the polish of the skin and the treatment of the eyes) suggest that it is of Antonine date. Thus, it may represent one of the many Antonine princes, perhaps one of the seven sons of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina Minor (see Antonine Woman as Venus, Riley Collection).



1. SHA, Clodius Albinus 2.5. The ancient literary sources describing the paludamentum are collected and discussed by L. Wilson, The Clothing of the Ancient Romans (Baltimore 1938). See also, A. Alföldi, "Insignien und Tracht der römischen Kaiser," RM 50 (1935) 50-51.


Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, The Tom and Nan Riley Collection, formerly in a French private collection. Copyright © 1997 Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. All rights reserved.

Photos by C. Randall Tosh, copyright © 1988 The University of Iowa Museum of Art. All rights reserved.

Text from Richard Daniel De Puma. Roman Portraits. Iowa City, IA: The University of Iowa, 1988. Copyright © 1988 The University of Iowa Museum of Art. All rights reserved.

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