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Head of a Roman man

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek


Only a few traces of pigment have survived on what seems to be a highly polished portrait. It is noteworthy that the pigments are found on the hair and on the surface where it is not polished in the area around the ears and neck, leaving the question whether the polished surface is original or not .

Description of object

The nose and chin have been broken off and are missing. There is also damage to the ears and the upper lip. The surface of the face has been buffed. The portrait has been suggested to depict the Roman emperor, Nerva.

Choice of methods

Visual examination

  • Macroscopic
  • Microscopic in situ

Technical imaging

  • UV
  • VIL

Visual examination

No traces of colour are found on the highly-polished surface of the skin suggesting that the highly- polished surface is modern. On the left side of the neck where the skin is not highly polished, a few, individual red grains are observed. On the hair scattered red and maroon grains are seen, while small traces of black are seen in the left eye.

Technical imaging


The hair, the left eye and the nose fracture reveal the presence of a few luminescent particles. However the luminescence appears weak and since the microscopy examination cannot support the presence of Egyptian blue any conclusion must remain tentative. UV-FL: The portrait reveals no fluorescence phenomena.


F. Johansen (1994), Catalogue. Roman Portraits II. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 90-91, cat. no. 32.

  • IN 3282
  • Portrait
  • Beginning of the second century C.E.
  • Roman Imperial
  • Marble
  • Acquired in 1961.
  • H. 33 cm.

Selected photos

  • In3282_t_0
  • In3282_t_90
  • In3282_t_180
  • In3282_t_270
  • In3282_uv_0
  • In3282_vil_0
  • In3282_vil_90
  • In3282_vil_180
  • In3282_vil_270