Antinous, the Emperor's Beloved

Investigating a Roman Portrait

Exhibition Website

Sep 1 2017 - Nov 26 2017

Antinous, the Emperor's Beloved: Investigating a Roman Portrait is the first exhibition project of its kind for the Museum in its focus on the insights achieved through the close, scientific examination of a single work in the collection. The exhibition centers on the Museum's ancient Roman portrait depicting Antinous, the beautiful youth beloved by the emperor Hadrian. The unexpected discovery in 2011 of traces of gilding on this marble portrait inspired an in-depth examination. The exhibition will share with the Museum's visitors both the methods of our behind-the-scenes research and what we have learned about this complex work of art.

Antinous's remarkable life story culminated in his death by drowning in the Nile in A.D. 130 and his subsequent deification by Hadrian. The Museum's portrait shows Antinous in the guise of Dionysos or Bacchus, the god of wine, recognizable by his wreath of ivy leaves. The exhibition explores the original appearance of the over-life-size statue to which this head belonged, including the scientific analysis of the ancient gilding of the ivy wreath, and reveals the many phases of restoration that have resulted in its current appearance.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

  • Sculpture
  • European
  • Ancient
  • History
  • Greek / Roman

Exhibition Venues & Dates