This very beautiful marble bas-relief is presented as a profile portrait of the famous companion of the Roman Emperor Hadrian: Antinous.
Born in Bithynia (province of Asia Minor), this young man of legendary beauty was Hadrian's favorite for six years. Inseparable, Antinous accompanied the emperor on all his journeys until 130, when during a stopover in Egypt, he was found drowned in the Nile.
Inconsolable, Hadrian deified Antinous, whose cult intensified throughout the Empire. Portraits of him popped up everywhere, highlighting his youthful beauty, his wiry, irregular locks of hair falling to the back of his neck, his large eyes, his melancholy expression.
It is one of the most famous faces of Antiquity that our sculptor chooses to put forward here, the very personification of ideal beauty, magnified in an aesthetic of the fragment so popular in neoclassical art.