Portrait of a Roman Youth

Ancient Rome, 190-200

In the 2nd century Greek sculptors played a very important role in the formation of the style and types of the Roman portrait. An interest in the inner world of the human subject was coupled with great skill in execution. Among the masterpieces of this period is the Hermitage’s Portrait of a Boy. He has an attractive, delicate face with a melancholy thoughtful expression that is achieved by the treatment of the eyes with deeply cut pupils sheltered by heavy lids. The surface of the marble of the face has been thoroughly polished. The carelessly dishevelled hair creates picturesque contrasts of light and shade. The proliferation of portraits of Antinous, Hadrian’s young favourite who died an untimely death in his late teens, made the image of an effete, sad adolescent popular in 2nd-century Roman art.; Such portraits are marked by a melancholy mood and a certain degree of idealization. Towards the end of his life, Hadrian withdrew from Rome to the villa at Tivoli, from where he ruled an empire divided into four parts, each headed by a consul. The villa was the source of over 300 sculptural masterpieces, including The Discus-Thrower and Capitoline Antinous, that are now to be found in the world’s major museums.


Portrait of a Roman Youth





height:28,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1851; purchased from Riketti and Rotta in Venice

Inventory Number:





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