A marble head of Empress Plotina
Lot 218
A Roman marble head of the Empress Plotina
Sold for £12,000 (US$ 20,157) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Roman marble head of the Empress Plotina
Early 2nd Century A.D.
The slender face with high cheek bones, wearing her distinctive hair drawn up into a high arch, then a sunken ridge with another band of tightly curled hair across her crown and framing her face extending into ringlets in front of her ears, with a central drill-hole presumably to have secured a diadem in another material, her hair drawn back behind and secured just above the nape of her neck, the long plait once secured by a pin, now missing, the hole for the pin visible, 6¼in. (15.7cm.) high, chipped in places, mounted


  • Provenance:
    Acquired by the present English owner from the American market in the early 1980's.

    This head bears a striking resemblance to other portrait heads of the Empress Plotina cf. German Hafner, Bildlexikon antiker Personen (Zurich 1993), p.222, which illustrates the head from the Capitoline Museum, Rome. Famous as a woman of virtue, the Empress Plotina (A.D. 70-122), was married to the Emperor Trajan, their marriage remained childless. The Emperor married off his a grand-niece Sabrina to his chosen heir, Hadrian, this marriage also remained childless. According to the historian Dio Cassius, Hadrian's accession was solely due to the actions of empress Plotina, who kept Trajan's death a secret for several days. In this time she sent letters to the Senate declaring Hadrian as the new heir. These letters however carried her own signature, not that of Emperor Trajan, probably using the excuse that the Emperor's illness made him too feeble to write.