Roman Portraits in the Getty Museum

Jiří Frel


144 pages

PDF file size: 11.4 MB


Portraits, sometimes crude in their realism or gripping in the sense of a living person, were one of the great achievements of Roman Art. The collection of one hundred portraits in the Getty Museum is one of the largest in the world. Dr. Frel surveys the history of Roman portrait art in an often controversial introduction on the purpose of portraits in Roman life and society, continuing his arguments through the catalogue analyses of the individual pieces. The occasion for the book was a loan exhibition of the portraits to the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa.

This lavishly illustrated book presents a discussion of the principal views and the uses of the portrait in ancient times. The photographs include unusual views of the back and profiles of many portraits to show the care with which they were created and their damage and reworking over the centuries. The catalogue also includes five portraits that are late evocations of the antique and outright forgeries.

Table of Contents

  • Preface: Mr. Getty’s Romans
  • Introduction: Roman Portraits
    • The Greek Tradition
    • Julius Caesar
    • The Tradition of the Republic
    • Augustus and his Family
    • Later Julio-Claudians
    • Flavian Realism
    • Seven Female Heads
    • Hadrianic Classicism
    • Sarcophagi
    • Antonine Portraits
    • Provincials
    • Late Antonine Portraits
    • Severan Portraits
    • The Soldier Emperors
    • Dubia
    • Spuria
    • Supplementary Information on catalogue entries
    • Abbreviations
    • Index by accession numbers

About the Authors

Jiří Frel is curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum.