In 30 B.C., Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus became ruler of the empire that Rome had amassed over the previous three centuries. During the next forty-four years, he introduced institutions and an ideology that combined the traditions of Republican Rome with the realities of kingship. In 27 B.C., the Senate conferred on Octavian the honorific title of Augustus, an adjective with connotations of dignity and stateliness, and around this same time, an official imperial portrait was created that embodied the qualities that Augustus wished to project.
Hundreds of versions of this portrait on coins, gems, busts, monumental reliefs, and statues were disseminated throughout the empire during his reign and thereafter. This particular over-lifesize head at the Louvre in Paris may have been part of one such statue of the emperor made during the reign of his successor Tiberius (1994.230.7). This kind of imperial image represented a new conception in ruler portraiture—certain features are somewhat individualized, such as the broad forehead with a distinctive arrangement of locks, a wreath and prominent ears, but the overall effect is one of elevated dignity that recalls Greek Classical statues of the fifth century B.C.
This object is part of "Scan The World". Scan the World is a non-profit initiative introduced by MyMiniFactory, through which we are creating a digital archive of fully 3D printable sculptures, artworks and landmarks from across the globe for the public to access for free. Scan the World is an open source, community effort, if you have interesting items around you and would like to contribute, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can help.