Portrait of Julia Domna (ca. A.D. 170–217) Artist: Unknown

A.D. 203–17

Ancient Art

On view, 1st floor, Ancient Art

Wife of the emperor Septimius Severus and mother of co-emperors Caracalla and Geta, Julia Domna is shown here wearing an impressively elaborate hairstyle, but wisps of her own hair peeking out near the ears reveal that it is a wig. The empress, born in Syria, was a patron of the arts, and her prominence was a manifestation of the increasing importance of the Roman provinces. Julia’s hairstyle corresponds to that depicted on a coin in the Yale University Art Gallery's collection (2007.183.82) as well as to her portraits on the arch of Septimius Severus in the emperor’s hometown, Leptis Magna (in modern Libya), which the imperial family visited in A.D. 203. The inscription on the coin’s reverse lists titles that Julia received between A.D. 209 and 211. She used this hairstyle for the rest of her life.




35 × 26.67 × 24.13 cm (13 3/4 × 10 1/2 × 9 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Ruth Elizabeth White Fund

Accession Number



Severan period


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.



Pestalozzi Collection, Zurich.
Acquired from the Pestalozzi collection about 1970 by Georgio Fallani (1921-1994).
Acquired from Georgio Fallani by bequest to his son Carlo Maria Fallani.
Consigend by Carlo Maria Fallani to Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd. as agents for the sale.
Purchased by the YUAG from Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd. in 2010.

Documents on file, YUAG Department of Ancient Art:

Attestment from Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd, 1/11/10 attesting they are the agent on C.M. Fallani

Letter to SBM from Carlo Maria Fallani (3 Albert Gos, Geneva 1206, Switzerland), 20 September 2010, confirming that he inherited the head from his father, and that his father acquired it from the Pestalozzi collection in Zurich, along with other ancient sculptures.

Art Loss Register Report, dated 27 October 2010, requested by Oliver Forge, attesting that the portrait has not been reported missing or stolen.
  • Klaus Fittschen, A Companion to Roman Art, ed. Barbara Borg (West Sussex, United Kingdom: John Wiley and Sons, 2015), 55, fig. 3.4.
  • Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire (Chestnut Hill, Mass.: McMullen Museum of Art, 2014), 285, no. 88, pl. 88.
  • "Acquisitions," https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Pub_Bull_acquisitions_2011.pdf (accessed March 1, 2012).
  • E. Simon, "Giorgio Fallani und das Martin-von-Wagner-Museum," Antike Welt 26, no. 1–6 (1995): 404–405.
  • Flemming Johansen, Roman Portraits: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 3 vols. (Copenhagen: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 1994–95), vol. 3, p. 28.
  • Hans Jucker and Dietrich Willers, Gesichter: Griechische und römische Bildnisse aus Schweizer Besitz, exh. cat. (Bern: Archa¨ologisches Seminar der Universita¨t Bern, 1983), 166-67, no. 68, ill.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

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

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