Bust of Hadrian



Portrait of Hadrian, restored on an ancient bust. It is recognised as a portrait of Hadrian because of the plastic, curly, worm-like appearance of the individual hair locks, the carefully incised details at the back and at the temples and the detailed beard. It is however not clear which type of Hadrian portrait It is. One suggestion is that this is a copy of the Vatican Sala dei Busti 283 type which was dated by the scholar Wegner to the late Hadrianic date, between 132-137 AD and proposed by the same scholar to have been created in 137 when Hadrian celebrated his vicennial jubilee. The hair with the detailed drillwork is also similar to the Hadrianic Renatus type, of the late Hadrianic, early Antonine period. The head looks slightly to the left and is mounted on a bust that shows both the balteus ( sword belt ) and the paludamentum ( military cloak ). Originally the head was on a different bust which showed only the paludamentum and it was illustrated with that bust in Venuit's publication of the collection. The original lost bust must have been from the Hadrianic period and it would have showed a large part of the breast and can be dated to about 140 AD. The current bust was also used for another head also from the Mattei collection and now in the Ince collection, the 59.148.122. The nose and a large proportion of the hair (including all of the front locks) have been restored, the face is porous and was treated with chemicals. Dating the portrait precisely is difficult because of the level of restoration and treatment. Purchased from the Villa Mattei Collection by Henry Blundell on his first trip to Italy in 1777.