Obelisk Art History
Ancient Rome

Portrait of the emperor Caracalla

Portrait of the emperor Caracalla, Ancient Rome
Portrait of the emperor Caracalla, zoomed in
21.6 cmPortrait of the emperor Caracalla scale comparison
See Portrait of the emperor Caracalla in the Kaleidoscope

Portrait of the emperor Caracalla is an Ancient Roman Bronze Sculpture created from 212 CE to 217 CE. It lives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The image is used according to Educational Fair Use, and tagged Emperors. Source

You have to admire the honesty of ancient Roman portraits. In this bronze sculpture, the Roman Emperor Caracalla looks like a square-jawed bull of a man. Caracalla is nearly always shown with his brow furrowed with the intensity unique to men who feel they're being treated unfairly by the world that hails them as king.

And perhaps Caracalla was given the short end of the imperial stick. When he became emperor in 198 CE, the Roman empire was sliding toward ruin. The Gothic tribes in Germany were claiming Roman territory, and the value of currency was slipping. To add insult to injury, the newly appointed emperor had to co-run the country with his elderly father and his younger brother, until 201 CE when his father died, and he swiftly murdered his brother. After all this, Caracalla went to the German front to lead his army, who hated him so much that just six years later a disaffected solder stabbed him to death while he was taking a piss by the side of the road.

Reed Enger, "Portrait of the emperor Caracalla," in Obelisk Art History, Published July 05, 2017; last modified May 19, 2021, http://arthistoryproject.com/timeline/the-ancient-world/roman/portrait-of-the-emperor-caracalla/.

Further reading atmetmuseum.org
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