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Ancient Art
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Portrait of Caligula, A.D. 12–41, (Ruled A.D. 37–41)

A.D. 37–41

Marble, probably Luna

33 × 21 × 23.5 cm (13 × 8 1/4 × 9 1/4 in.)
Funded by Peggy and Richard M. Danziger, LL.B. 1963, George Hopper Fitch, B.A. 1932, Allen Grover, B.A. 1922, the Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund, the John Heinz III Charitable Trust, and the H. J. Heinz Family Fund
Caligula, who ruled as Roman emperor between A.D. 37 and 41, ranks among history’s most infamous characters, accused of a host of mad and cruel acts. Despite the questionable veracity of some of the more egregious claims against him, Caligula’s unpopularity led not only to his assassination but also to an unofficial “damnatio memoriae”—a “condemnation of his memory”—which included the removal of his portraits from public view. His portrait image, however, gives no hint of the emperor’s alleged brutality and mental imbalance. On the contrary, Caligula’s portraits are highly conservative, especially in the neat arrangement of comma-shaped locks over the forehead; this was in line with the portrait styles of his predecessor, Tiberius, and those of Augustus before him.
On view
Imperial, Julio-Claudian

Said to have been found in Rome, possibly near the Tiber in the area of Ponte Milvio; Frank E. Brown, acquired in Rome around 1950; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., on loan since 1963, acquired from the above, 1987.


Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 266, ill.

“Acquisitions 1985–1987,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 40, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 131, ill. cover.

Susan B. Matheson and Diana E.E. Kleiner, I Claudia Women in Ancient Rome, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1996), 61, no. 12, ill.

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 such records is ongoing.