Virile statue

This statue, of which only the upper part survives, offers us the honorary portrait of an eminent, although unknown figure, who wished to be represented in heroic nudity, partly mitigated by the cape which covers his shoulder and arm. He probably held a spear in his right hand, and displayed an attribute in the other. The statue’s stylistic traits conserve elements of the Hellenistic physiognomic portrait and the mid-Italic portrait tradition. The very elongated neck is perhaps an optical correction for a monument destined to be exhibited on a high pedestal in a public place, to celebrate an important Roman magistrate at the threshold of the imperial age.
The notoriety of the personage is implied by the fact that at least three ancient marble copies of this portrait have been identified: a head also conserved in the Vatican Museums, one in the Cleveland Museum of Art, and another in a private collection.
The stylistic elements would suggest that it dates from the late Republican or early Imperial period. Indeed, in the statue there are features typical of portraits dated around 60 to 50 B.C., although elements such as the type of hairstyle would circumscribe the date around 40 B.C., the years that marked the rise of the political fortune of Caesar’s adopted son Gaius Octavius, the future Augustus, first emperor of Rome.