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Bust of the Emperor Lucius Verus

Ancient Rome, Third quarter of the 2nd century

Lucius Verus (130-169; reigned from 161) was co-ruler with Marcus Aurelius (161-180). This portrait was conceived to be an embodiment of the military might of Rome: Lucius Verus is shown as a military commander after the Parthian Triumph of 165, wearing a tunic and armour decorated with a relief mask of the Medusa on the breastplace and with a thunderbolt on the shoulders. The energetic turn of the head, the broad, straight shoulders, give the image a sense of self-confidence and strength. The portrait is skilfully exectued: the polished marble surface of the face is finelly modelled and contrasts with the curls of the beard and the locks of hair, carefully worked up with a gimlet. One Classical author tells us that Lucius Verus "was so concerned with his golden hair that he dusted his head with golden sequins in order that his hair seemed more golden." An expression of self-satisfaction on the face confirms the words of the emperor's biographer: "In contrast to Marcus Aurelius, who followed the rules of philosophy, Lucius Verus was notable for the looseness of his morals and an extreme tendency towards a wild life". Many portraits of him have survived, of which the Hermitage bust is a masterpiece of 2nd-century official art.


Bust of the Emperor Lucius Verus




h. 76 cm

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