This portrait of Rome's first emperor is an idealized, youthful image, which harks back to the representation of athletes and heroes of fifth-century BCE Greece. It follows the portrait well known from a marble statue of Augustus, discovered in the villa of Augustus's wife Livia outside of Rome. That handsome likeness was the source of Inspiration for hundreds of portraits of the emperor all over the expanding Roman Empire. The statue may have served as the cult figure in a temple to the deified emperor, or stood in a public or private place of honor.
Artist Roman
Title
  • Head of Emperor Augustus
Date 1st century CE
Medium marble
Dimensions Overall: 28 1/4 × 11 5/8 × 12 5/8 inches (71.8 × 29.5 × 32.1 cm)
Overall (head): 19 1/8 × 11 5/8 × 11 1/16 inches (48.6 × 29.5 × 28.1 cm)
Mount (base): 9 × 10 3/8 inches (22.9 × 26.4 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James S. Holden
Accession Number 24.101
Department Greco-Roman and Ancient European
On View Ancient Greek and Roman S202, Level 2 (see map)
(Joseph Brummer);
Mr. and Mrs. James S. Holden (Michigan, USA);
1924-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
P[oland], R[eginald]. "Classical Busts Acquired," Bulletin of the DIA 6, no. 6 (March 1925): 62–64, p. 63 (ill.).

Robinson, David M. "Two New Heads of Augustus," American Journal of Archaeology 30, no. 2 (April–June 1926): 125–136, pp. 127–129 (ill.).

H[eil], W[alter]. "Four Roman Portrait Heads," Bulletin of the DIA 9, no. 3 (December 1927): 28–30, pp. 28–29 (ill.).

Montini, Italo. Il Ritratto di Augusto. Rome, 1938, pp. 59, 88.

Vermeule, Cornelius C. "Greek and Roman Portraits in North American Collections Open to the Public: A Survey of Important Monumental Likenesses in Marble and Bronze which have not been published extensively," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 108, no. 2 (April 1964): 99–134, pp. 104.

Treasures from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1966, p. 40 (ill.).

Kiss, Zsolt. L'iconographie des princes Julio-Claudiens au temps d'Auguste et de Tibère. Warsaw, 1975, pp. 53, 181, pl. 604–605 (ill.).

Vermeule, Cornelius. Greek and Roman Sculpture in America. Berkeley, 1981, p. 281, no 238.

Pollini, John. The Portraiture of Gaius and Lucius Caesar. New York, 1987, p. xii, 16, 58, 100, 109, 121, pl. 19 (ill.).

Henshaw, Julia, ed. A Visitor's Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 116 (ill.).