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The development of Roman portraiture is characterised by a stylistic cycle that alternately emphasised realistic or idealising elements. This battered bust (possibly re-carved), with its lifelike wrinkles and folds of skin tempered by classical, regular features, would seem typical of portraits from the first century AD. It may have accompanied the ashes of the subject in a communal tomb. Such classical prototypes would be a critical influence on the art of portrait sculpture from the Renaissance onwards.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts



AD 1st C




H 34.1 x W 20.3 x D 22.3 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

known to have been in Europe prior to 1962; purchased from K. J. Hewett Ltd, 1962

Work type



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Normally on display at

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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