Total height 34 cm
Height from chin to top of head 31.5 cm
Height from chin to forehead 22.5 cm
Distance between the inner angles of the eyes 4.5 cm
White, fine-grain marble
The tip of the nose, the extremities of the curls on the forehead, and the ears are fractured; there is some speckling on the left cheek
The portrait, broken at the neck, has a wide and rectangular forehead. The eyes, surmounted by arched eyebrows, are elongated, with thin eyelids and smooth eyeballs; the lacrimal caruncle is sunken. The part of the nose between the eyebrows is marked by two short, oblique wrinkles. The nasal-labial folds frame a slightly open mouth, which has a thin upper lip that protrudes when viewed in profile. Long, wavy locks are combed forward onto the forehead; the locks are striated on the inside and end in curls at the forehead and temples; on the lower part, the hair radiates in all directions. The ears are left exposed and feature grooves in the lobes. The head portrays Hadrian (76-138 AD) and reproduces the fundamental motifs of his “Stazione Termini” type; comparisons made with coins suggest the official image created immediately after his accession to the throne. Trajan unexpectedly died on August 7th in 117 AD, and on the 11th Hadrian, at forty-one years old, was acclaimed in Antioch, where he served as vice commander of the legions stationed in Syria. Trajan’s adoption of Hadrian as heir to the throne, legitimate or fictitious, is heralded by two coins, one of which emerged on the antiquarian market a few years ago, with the portrait of the latter on the obverse and the former on the reverse, accompanied by the motto HADRIANO TRAIANO CAESAR. After the emperor’s arrival in Rome in 118 AD, the “Stazione Termini” type was replaced by a new type. Not many replicas have been found for this reason. One of the most famous among these replicas is the loricated bust from Anzio at the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The novelty of the beard and the refined hairstyle parted “into terraces”, characterized by wavy locks rolled with an iron, distance the new image of the emperor from that of his predecessor.
The head, belonging to a batch of counterfeit material recuperated by the Guardia di Finanza, does not seem to be authentic: the rendering of the beard with flame-shaped locks and at times with coiled ends, is flat and schematic. Moreover, the effect of the head of hair is particular, of a wax-like aspect and without the refined waves of the antique portraits of Hadrian of the same type; the locks, made in a stiff and simplified manner, particularly in the anterior area, present drilled holes in the curled extremities, while in the antique examples, the drill’s light touches result in a cleaner and semi-lunar cut; finally, even the enormous lock at the forehead’s center, in the first and second rows of hair, appears to be modeled after an example in the Uffizi in Florence – where it was restored – while this does not seem to be the case with the other antique replicas of the type. It is therefore likely a fake, likely to be mistaken for an antique on account of the artificial aging of the head with encrustations, removed during restoration, and for the damage purposely inflicted on its surface.