Male Portrait on Modern Bust, Called Old Man of Otricoli
Among the numerous imperial busts arranged along the gallery that sumptuously concluded the exhibition itinerary of the Torlonia Museum, this portrait appeared as an effigy of Servius Sulpicius Galba, proclaimed emperor in the summer of 68 and in office only until January 69. Also known as "Vecchio da Otricoli", from the place of his presumed discovery, the bust portrays an elderly man, presented under the sign of ruthless realism: age is exasperated by marked and deep wrinkles, which characterize the portrait of the face with austere and angular features placed on a modern bust. The realism that animates the portrait could be an expression of the values of the Roman patriciate of the Republican age, dedicated to an austere and traditionalist life, inspired by the exemplary conduct of the ancestors. The portrait in fact recalls the imagines maiorum, "images of the ancestors", wax masks that were taken from the face of the deceased, enriched with details that made them closer to the truth, and whose use was legally governed by the ius imaginum, a noble privilege.
Inventory: MT 533
Technique: Work sculpted through the use of: chisels (also square-tipped and toothed) rasps
Dating: Late Republican period