The J. Paul Getty Museum

Engraved Portrait of Aurelian

Object Details

Title:

Engraved Portrait of Aurelian

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Place:

Rome (?), Italy (Place Created)

Date:

A.D. 260–280

Medium:

Amethyst

Object Number:

84.AN.856

Dimensions:

1.8 × 1.4 × 0.6 cm (3/4 × 9/16 × 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

A portrait of the Roman emperor Aurelian decorates this engraved gem, which was probably originally set in a ring. He appears in armor as a military man, with his hair and beard both short. A laurel wreath symbolizes victory. The high grade of the amethyst used and the skillful engraving of the image suggest that the imperial workshops created this gem.

The reign of the Roman emperor Aurelian was a brief moment of calm and regeneration in the troubled 200s A.D. A man of humble origins, Aurelian ascended to the throne through a successful military career. By A.D. 270, when he became emperor, outside invasions and internal revolts had almost destroyed the Empire. During his short reign, he secured the empire's boundaries and stabilized the economy before being assassinated in A.D. 275.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1984

Galerie Nefer (Zurich, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Bibliography
Bibliography

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), p. 173, no. 37.

Lapatin, Kenneth. "Materials and Techniques of Art." In The Oxford handbook of Greek and Roman art and architecture. Marconi, Clemente, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 222-3, fig. 9.9.