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Portrait of L. Aninius Rufus

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek


In spite the white appearance of this portrait, minute traces of red/orange pigments are found on the surface of the skin and hair suggesting that the portrait once was fully painted. UV-image of the eyes shows traces of a discreet suggestion of the irises though no traces ogf pigment are found in this area.

Description of object

Inserted into a herm shaft of bluish marble. A portion of the forehead has been broken off, but has now been replaced. The back edge of each ear is badly chipped.

Archaeological Commentary

The inscription on the herm says: L ANINIO L F RVFO Q ARICIAE PRIMA VXOR which means that the wife, Prima erected (this herm) for Lucius Aninius Rufus, Lucius’ son, Quaestor of Aricia.

Choice of methods

Visual examination

  • Macroscopic
  • Microscopic in situ

Technical imaging

  • UV
  • VIL

Visual examination

Small traces of red are found all over the portrait. The largest concentration of paint is found in the hair and on the neck.

No traces of paint have been found in the inscription on the herm.

Technical imaging

UV-FL: A strong, bluish fluorescense is seen in the area above the right eye of the portrait. What appear to be traces of a discreet suggestion of the outline of the irises are seen especially in left eye.

VIL: In the hair a few, small particles shine bright white. The characteristic glow of the particles suggests the use of Egyptian blue, but since no trace of blue is found in this area, this cannot be confirmed.


F. Johansen (1994), Roman Portraits I. Catalogue Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, cat. no. 84, 192-193.

  • IN 1437
  • Portrait herm
  • 1st century CE
  • Roman Imperial
  • Marble
  • Acquired in 1891 from Count Orsini, through the mediation of Helbig
  • H. 40 cm.; H. of herm: 110 cm

Selected photos

  • In1437_t_0
  • In1437_t_90
  • In1437_t_180
  • In1437_t_270
  • In1437_uv_t_0
  • In1437_uv_d_eyes
  • In1437_vil_d_0_eyes
  • In1437_mi_90_hair_x26
  • In1437_mi_180_neck_x26
  • In1437_map_t_0
  • In1437_map_t_180