• Bust of a Roman Woman (possibly Cornelia Salonina)

    height: 57,0 cm

Bust of a Roman Woman (possibly Cornelia Salonina)

Ancient Rome, circa 250

Cornelia Salonina was the wife of Emperor Gallienus (253–268), a noble and educated man, who was, however, constantly engaged in military campaigns. During his reign there was a revival in Roman art of the traditions of psychological portraiture characteristic of the Flavian and Antonine period. Cornelia Salonina is depicted in the guise of Venus Genitrix, the goddess as an ancestress. This is indicated by the light chiton slipping off her right shoulder. The young woman's body is idealized, whilst her face has rather distinctive features and a complex expression. Gallienus’s reign was a time when Christianity was spreading widely, while the philosopher Plotinus called on his followers to perfect themselves inwardly, asserting the primacy of the spirit over the flesh. The creator of Salonina’s portrait did not, however, eschew the depiction of the beauty of the material world. The finely polished surface of the marble conveys the varied textures of the fabric, body and hair. In the representation of the fashionable hairstyle the sculptural working of the masses is combined with a graphic finish to individual details.


Bust of a Roman Woman (possibly Cornelia Salonina)





height: 57,0 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1787; originally in the John Lyde Browne collection

Inventory Number: