During the 2nd century the sculptors of Greece, which was part of the Roman Empire, played an important role in the production of skilfully executed portraits which revealed an interest in the model's inner world. This Hermitage portrait of a boy is an excellent example. In his handsome, fine face, a sad, thoughtful expression is achieved through the treatment of the eyes, with their deeply cut irises, covered with heavy lids, and through the slightly drooping corners of the mouth. The marble surface of the face is carefully polished, while the carelessly ruffled locks of hair create a picturesque play of light and shade. In the 2nd century, portraits of slightly feminine, sad young boys became popular in Roman art thanks to the widespread portraits of Antinous, a young favourite of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138), who met an untimely death when he drowned during a trip along the Nile with his patron.
Portrait of a Boy