117–138 AD. Roman. This elegant Roman female head dates around the first/second quarter of the second century AD as indicated by the incised eyes, which is a practice introduced under the Emperor Hadrian (117–138 AD). The hair locks swept back and the headdress indicate that the person depicted was an aristocratic woman (perhaps Vibia Sabina herself, the wife of the Emperor Hadrian). The frontality of the portrait reminds us of the numerous sculptures that we know from Palmyra, Syria. Therefore, this might be a provincial take on the Empress’ portrait. Syria was annexed as a province of the Roman Empire by Pompey Magnus in 64 BC. A troublesome province (see the Jewish Revolts of the first and second century AD), Syria would be part of the breakaway Palmyrene Empire (268–273) ruled by the legendary Queen Zenobia.
Size: L:345mm / W:245mm ; 27.3kg
Provenance: Property of a London gentleman; formerly with the Mahboubian Gallery, London, UK; acquired before 1972; accompanied by an early 1970s black and white photograph; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.157481-10033.