Unfinished Portrait

The statue represents a mature man wearing three garments (a long-sleeved tunic, a short-sleeved tunic, and a toga) and thin-soled, soft leather boots with straps that wrap around the ankles. This was the distinctive toga costume of a late Roman senator, and the subject was probably a provincial governor. In the outstretched left hand he holds an inkpot, and the now-missing right hand might have held a scroll or a pen. A bundle of scrolls serves as a support for the statue. These allude to the subject’s education and literary culture.

The carving is technically daring; neither of the outstretched arms, which are worked from the same block as the body, are reinforced by struts. Yet the portrait head was never fully finished and thus appears too large in proportion to the body: much marble still remained to be removed in the final cutting. The features, which have been worked only to an intermediate stage, are nonetheless already specific, and the hairstyle roughly sketched. It is therefore unlikely that the statue was a pre-fabricated work awaiting a buyer. The same form of the toga also appears in two statues from Aphrodisias that represent the emperors Valentinian II and Arcadius (AD 388-392) and shows the statue belongs in the later fourth century.