• Portrait of Emperor Hadrian Сrowned with Laurels

    height: 24 cm

Portrait of Emperor Hadrian Сrowned with Laurels

Western Syria, mid-3rd century

This head was found in 1873 near Jerusalem and acquired by Archimandrite Antonin, who bequeathed it to the Hermitage. Until 1885 it was in the collection of the Russian Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem, after which it was transferred to the Russian Archaeological Institute in Constantinople, and from there to the Hermitage in 1889. Disputes over the subject of the portrait began with the first publications. The man is wearing a broad laurel wreath with a cameo medallion depicting an eagle with outspread wings (the way the bird appeared on Roman military standards). The facial features and characteristics of the hairstyle in the Hermitage portrait do not accord with the iconography of Hadrian but are close to portraits made in the eastern provinces. The Hermitage head derives from a statue set up in Aelia Capitolina, the Roman colony that Hadrian founded on the territory of Jerusalem, which had been all but razed by the Flavian emperors. In AD 130 a fresh Jewish uprising broke out, after the suppression of which Hadrian constructed a Roman city on the site of Jerusalem with theatres, public baths, temples of Capitoline Jupiter and Venus-Astarte and sculptural portraits of the ruler. Judging by the working of the back of the head, this sculpture stood in a niche and evidently adorned one of the city’s public buildings. The portrait from Aelia Capitolina differs from Roman-Italic works. The Emperor’s sombre, elderly appearance arose under the influence of eastern traditions that survived in that period in portraits made in Syria and Palmyra.


Portrait of Emperor Hadrian Сrowned with Laurels




height: 24 cm

Place of finding:

Western Syria

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1899 as a gift from Archbishop Anthony

Inventory Number: