• Bust of the Emperor Lucius Verus

    height: 76,0 cm

Bust of the Emperor Lucius Verus

Ancient Rome, 161-169

Lucius Verus (130–169, reigned from 161) was the co-ruler of Marcus Aurelius. One of the best portraits in the collection, the bust of the Emperor repeats the official archetype created after his military triumph marking victory over the Parthians. Lucius Verus is depicted in ceremonial armour, his breastplate embellished with a relief mask of the Gorgon Medusa, a cape over one shoulder and a plaque with lightning bolts hanging from the other. The creator of this portrait was a virtuoso sculptor: he brilliantly produces an illusion, achieving truly painterly effects through his working of the surface of the stone. The artistic style of the Antonine era attained perfection in this portrait, especially in the conveying of texture: the tight curls in the mane of hair, the bushy beard and moustache. Lucius Verus reigned for just eight years. He was younger than his co-ruler and had played supporting roles since childhood. The depiction of Lucius sets his image apart from that of Marcus Aurelius, who was called “the philosopher on the throne”. Ancient historians inform us that Lucius had a dissolute lifestyle and resembled Nero in many respects, but without the cruelty. Foremost in the portraits of Lucius Verus are showiness, elegance and Neo-Classical stylization. The romantic coiffure and the heroic turn of the head are reminiscent of both the handsome Antinous and the valorous Achilles. Julius Capitolinus wrote of this Emperor’s imitation of Greek heroes, stating that Lucius Verus used to sprinkle his hair with gold dust so as to resemble some Ancient Greek hero from the Iliad.


Bust of the Emperor Lucius Verus





height: 76,0 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1924; formerly in Pavlovsk, near St Petersburg

Inventory Number:





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