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Sculptural portrait of Philip the Arab

C. mid-3rd century

Marble; h 72.3 cm

This emperor was called Philip the Arab for his Arabian origin. He seized power in 244, having by bribery and cunning set the legions against his predecessor. Yet cruelty and perfidy were combined with courage and resolution in Philip's character. This bust is a brilliant example of Roman portrait sculpture, with its accurate presentation of psychological characteristics and its expressiveness. The generalized, somewhat rough and heavy features of the face are energetically executed. The master used sparse, simple means in creating this portrait. The hair and beard surface are worked with short incisions. Avoiding those methods of treating marble which produced purely external, showy effects, the author nonetheless managed to create a hearty portrait of the 'emperor-soldier' which reveals all the force of his personality.

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