Portrait: Bust of a Man

by Lindsay
(United States)

Original Text: Portrait: Bust of a Man


In the late Republic period of the Roman Empire, sculptural busts were made to commemorate ancestors; Bust of a Man is no different. The sculptural art of the of the Roman Empire was a lot like classical Greek art because the Romans began replicating the realism found in classical art. The main difference between the two was that the Romans wanted portraits, not an idealized picture. Bust of a Man is a realistic, life-size terracotta bust from about fifty BCE. The harmonious lines found within the carving make this sculpture the perfect example of the stylistic attributes to the art of the Roman Empire.
In the 35.7 centimeters tall sculpture the most prominent part of the face is the nose. This could partly be caused because the nose seems to be abnormal to the proportions of the rest of the face. It could also be due to the lines created by the direction of the hair and the curves of the eyebrows. The broad and slightly crooked nose leads the viewer to the slightly downturned rectangular mouth. This stern mouth leads towards a square jaw line and the curve of the jaw turns into the curve of the ear, which then leads the observer to look into the upturned pupils of the eyes.
The unknown artist did a brilliant replication of an adult male, bringing life and realism into his face; the face seems to express the personality of the man. The strong and stiff set of the jaw seems to convey a sense of imposing and powerful masculinity. A contemplative wisdom and thoughtfulness is suggested through the weary and anxious wrinkles placed around his somber eyes. The tired eyes seem to gaze upward away from the viewer, giving a sense of wonder and wistfulness to the depths found in the elegant lines that frame the detailed features which seem hard and worn by time.
The rough grey terracotta lends a skin-like texture to the realistic features of the face. This texture is smoothed down slightly in the patterns of the strategically placed strands of hair and the crevices of the skin. The seemingly random lines of the hair are curved toward the center of the face, defining the controlled silhouette of the facial structure. The short meandering wrinkles around the eyes create interest in the interior of the eye. An asymmetrical balance to the front view of the face is created by the slight turning of the head to the right, causing a slight sagging of skin underneath the defined chin to appear, suggesting that the subject has reached his prime. The tips of the nose and the ears both have a slight shine to them; most likely do to handling over time. Along with the slight shine there are smoothed edges along the crown of the head, showing the sculpture has been handled periodically. The ragged edges under the shoulders suggest that the piece continued down to possibly the upper arms or that the piece was never completed.
Even with the possibility of Bust of a Man being incomplete it does not fail to show the depth found in the art of the late Republic period in the Roman Empire. The bust is made realistic through the harmonious lines carved into the terracotta. Bust of a Man shows how lines can create expression and beauty through the Roman’s appreciation of realism.

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Revised Text:

In the Late Republic period of the Roman Empire, sculptural busts were made to commemorate ancestors. Bust of a Man is one of this type. The sculptural art of the of the Roman Empire was a lot like classical Greek art because the Romans began replicating the realism found in classical art. The main difference between the two was that the Romans wanted portraits, not idealized pictures.

Bust of a Man is a realistic, life-size terracotta bust from about fifty BCE. The harmonious lines found in the carving make this sculpture the perfect example of the stylistic attributes of the art of the Roman Empire. In the 35.7 centimeter tall sculpture, the most prominent part of the face is the nose. This could partly be because the nose seems to be out of proportion to the rest of the face. It could also be due to the lines created by the direction of the hair and the curves of the eyebrows. The broad and slightly crooked nose leads the viewer to the slightly down-turned, rectangular mouth. This stern mouth leads towards a square jaw line and the curve of the jaw turns into the curve of the ear, which then leads the observer to look into the upturned pupils of the eyes.

The unknown artist did a brilliant replication of an adult male, bringing life and realism to the face, which seems to express the personality of the man. The strong and stiff set of the jaw seems to convey a sense of imposing and powerful masculinity. A contemplative wisdom and thoughtfulness is suggested through the weary and anxious wrinkles placed around his somber eyes. The tired eyes seem to gaze upward, away from the viewer, giving a sense of wonder and wistfulness to the depths found in the elegant lines that frame the detailed features, which seem hard and worn by time.

The rough, gray terracotta lends a skin-like texture to the realistic features of the face. This texture is smoothed down slightly in the patterns of the strategically placed strands of hair and the crevices of the skin. The seemingly random lines of the hair are curved toward the center of the face, defining the controlled silhouette of the facial structure. Short meandering wrinkles around the eyes create interest in the interior of the eye.

An asymmetrical balance to the front view of the face is created by the slight turning of the head to the right, causing a slight sagging of skin beneath the defined chin to appear, suggesting that the subject has reached his prime. The tips of the nose and the ears both have a slight shine to them, most likely do to handling over time. Along with the slight shine there are smoothed edges along the crown of the head, showing that the sculpture has been handled periodically.

The ragged edges under the shoulders suggest that the piece continued down, possibly to the upper arms or that the piece was never completed.
Even with the possibility of Bust of a Man being incomplete it does not fail to show the depth found in the art of the Late Republic period in the Roman Empire. The bust is made realistic through the harmonious lines carved into the terracotta. Bust of a Man shows how lines can create expression and beauty through the Roman’s appreciation of realism.

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