Bust of Emperor Caracalla (born 188, reigned A.D. 211 - 217)

Object Details


Bust of Emperor Caracalla (born 188, reigned A.D. 211 - 217)


Bartolomeo Cavaceppi (Italian, 1716/1717 - 1799)




Rome, Italy (Place created)


about 1750 - 1770




71 cm, 53.978 kg (27 15/16 in., 119 lb.)

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Caracalla, one of the bold and brutal Roman emperors who ruled in the early 200s A.D., murdered his brother in his ascent to power and later was himself assassinated. In this marble bust, he wears a soldier's cuirass and toga. Turning his head to the left, he focuses on something that apparently does not meet with his approval. He flares his nostrils and furrows his brow, movements perhaps intended to suggest his ferociousness.

In the 1700s, Caracalla's likeness was known from a bust in the Farnese collection in Rome and then Naples, believed to date from the 200s. Sculptor Bartolomeo Cavaceppi drew on this famous prototype for his marble bust of Caracalla. Carved during a period in which collectors bought sculptures all' antica, this bust was probably intended for an English collector's Neoclassical gallery.

Cavaceppi was best known for his restorations of antique sculpture rather than for his rare original works, such as this one. He demonstrated his familiarity with classicism through his skillful drillwork in the antique manner, seen in the handling of Caracalla's beard and hair. This bust is one of Cavaceppi's rare signed works.

- 1994

Private Collection (New York, New York) [sold, Sotheby's, New York, June 6, 1994, lot 112.]


Daniel Katz Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.

Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century (March 16 to September 17, 2000)
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, (Philadelphia), March 16 to May 28, 2000
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 25 to September 17, 2000
The Getty Commodus: Roman Portraits and Modern Copies (December 18, 2008 to June 1, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, (Malibu), December 18, 2008 to June 1, 2009
L'Antiquité rêvée: innovations et résistances au XVIIIe siècle (December 2, 2010 to May 30, 2011)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, March 20 to May 30, 2011
Related Media
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    Audio: Bust of Emperor Caracalla / Alexis Smith