Portrait of Julia Domna
Ca. 193—194 CE.
Paris, Louvre MuseumInv. Nos. MR 638 / Ma 1103.

Portrait of Julia Domna.

Ca. 193—194 CE.
Inv. Nos. MR 638 / Ma 1103.

Paris, Louvre Museum

From Gabii.
The surviving portraits of Julia Domna have been divided into six official types, named after the present location of their best examples: the Gabii, Vienna, Leptis, Berlin, Munich, and Vatican types. The chronology is based on numismatic evidence and on the major events of the empress’s life. The first portraits on coins and in the round appear to have been made in 193 and depict Julia Domna with an oval face and fleshy cheeks, widely spaced eyes, long nose, and prominent chin. Her face is framed by a coiffure that is parted in the center and falls in deep waves that cover her ears. The remainder of the hair is gathered in a broad bun at the back of her head. The coiffure was certainly a wig, which was given a naturalistic touch by the introduction of curls of real hair on her cheeks that escape from the peruke. The empress is depicted in this type on the relief from the Arch of the Argentarii in Rome (see fig. 302), which indicates that it was still being used in 204, and also in a well-known head from Gabii (fig. 290), from which type 1 gets its name. In the latter portrait, she is shown with an oval face, delicately arched brows, and rounded lips with dimples at the corners.

In Julia Domna’s later portrait types, the wig is so rigid that the coiffure has been called the helmet hairstyle. The hair is still parted in the center and falls in deep waves on either side of the face, almost to the bottom of the neck where it is further embellished with thick coils of hair twisted from bottom to top and fastened at the level of the temples. The wig encloses the head like a confining helmet and covers the ears and cheeks, although a few tendrils of real hair escape onto the cheeks. The Leptis type can be seen in the reliefs of the Arch of Septimius Severus in Leptis Magna and in a portrait of the empress as Ceres from Ostia (fig. 291). The latter is also an example of the continued interest of the imperial patrons of the Severan dynasty in having themselves depicted in the guises of divinities and heroes. A silver medallion struck in Rome (fig. 292) also represents Julia Domna in a similar portrait and in the guise of the personification of Abundance. The empress, whose distinctive physiognomy is immediately recognizable, cradles a cornucopia in her left arm and carries a statuette of Abundance, also with a cornucopia, in her right hand. The implication is that Julia, who is designated in the accompanying legend as Julia Augusta, is thus doubly abundant. In fact, it is her fertility that has provided the empire with the two male heirs who will fulfill the Severan destiny. A tiara emerges from her wig, which is of the close-fitting helmet type with a central part, long, deep waves with braided coils at the front edges, and a large bun at the back of the head.

© 1992 г. Photo, text: Diana E. E. Kleiner. Roman sculpture. Yale University Press New Haven & London, 2002. P. 326—327, fig. 290.
© Photo: Cliché des Musées Nationaux.
Keywords: απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt of a woman female femminile donna weibliches frau de femme roman romana römisches romain αυτοκρατορικό imperial imperiale kaiserliches impérial δυναστεία των σεβήρων domus severana severan dynasty dinastia dei severi severer sévères ρωμαϊκή αυτοκράτειρα ιουλία δόμνα julia domna iulia domna pia roman empress imperatrice romana giulia domna römische kaiserin impératrice romaine γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό roman romana romano romani römisch römische römisches römischen römischer romain romaine romains romaines προτομή bust busto büste buste marble marmo marmor marbre μάρμαρο female dress clothes clothing garment abbigliamento femminile damenbekleidung vêtements pour femmes γυναικεία ρούχα female hairdo hairstyle pettinatura acconciatura femminile weibliche frisur coiffure féminine θηλυκό χτένισμα wig parrucca perücke perruque περούκα comb-out hair setting set piega dei capelli from the borghese collection dalla collezione borghese aus der borghese-sammlung the gabii type il tipo gabii from gabii da gabii inv no mr 638 inv no ma 1103
History of Ancient Rome