Portrait of the Emperor Commodus as a Boy Artist: Unknown

A.D. 172–73

Ancient Art

On view, 1st floor, Ancient Art

Commodus, son of the emperor Marcus Aurelius and his wife, Faustina the Younger, is shown here at the age of eleven. As attested by the medallion also in the Yale University Art Gallery's collection, he has just been granted the title Germanicus in honor of his father’s victories in Germany. The heavy-lidded eyes recall those of Marcus Aurelius and link the son with his imperial father, a common propaganda device in portraits emphasizing dynastic succession. No signs of Commodus’s megalomania, which is known from historical sources, appear in this portrait of the young prince.




17 11/16 × 16 1/8 × 7 7/8 in. (45 × 41 × 20 cm)

Credit Line

Ruth Elizabeth White Fund

Accession Number



Imperial, Antonine


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Purchased from Galeria Ordaz, Mexico City, in 1944, by Father Joseph Jarzebowski and brought by him to Fawley Court, near Henley; Fawley Court Museum until 2005; Michael Ward and Co; acquired from the above; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., acquired from the above, 2007.
  • William E. Metcalf, "A Medallion of Commodus and Annius Verus," in "Recent Acquisitions," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2014), 84–86, fig. 1
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2007–June 30, 2008," in "Recent Acquisitions," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2008), 182, ill
  • Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 211, 390, pl. 198
  • "The Autumn 2005 Antiquities Sales," Minerva 2, no. 17 (March/April 2006), 40–41, fig. 7
  • Christie's London, London, Christie's Fine Antiquities, sale cat. (18 October 2005), 94–95, lot 106, ill
  • Elizabeth Bartman, "Review of Klaus Fittschen: Prinzenbildnisse Antoninischer Zeit," Journal of Roman Archaeology 12 (2001), 562, 564, Commodus
  • Christie's London, London, The Arundel Marbles and Other Sculpture from Fawley Court and Hall Barn, sale cat. (December 10, 1985), 24–25, lot 259, ill
  • Henning Wrede, "Herakliskos Commodus Review," Gnomon 48 (1976), 315, Anninus Verus
  • Cornelius Vermeule and Dietrich von Bothmer, "Notes on a New Edition of Michaelis, Part Three: 1," American Journal of Archaeology 63.2 (1959),
  • Jocelyn M.C. Toynbee, "A Bust of an Antoinine Boy," Journal of Roman Studies 49 (1959), 39–40, pls. 1–3; Commodus or Annius Verus
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

busts (sculpture), human figures (visual works), portraits

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