Roman marble head fragment, 300 A.D.

The period of time between the third and fifth centuries is known as the end of Lower Imperial Rome, a moment that corresponds to the mandate of Diocletian with which the decline of the Empire began. When Rome seems to have reached its peak, the Hellenistic tradition begins to decline. There is a deterioration of the institutions, a fall in the economy and constant attacks from the barbarian peoples, facts that will be reflected in the artistic panorama. This marble head fragment corresponds to a portrait of a woman with a rounded face and hair gathered on both sides of her face, this being the typical Roman headdress. The tendencies of the portraits were adopted by the Romans from the Greek tradition. Among the portraits, the most frequent forms are the head and the bust. The ancient Romans were great portraitists, from pictorial representations, steles, niches or sculptures. The emperors used portraits for their political programmes and to demonstrate power while, in the private sphere, portraits performed their function in a funerary context. Busts with descriptions decorated the altars and tombs of the deceased.


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