Portrait of Caligula, A.D. 12–41, (Ruled A.D. 37–41) Artist: Unknown

A.D. 37–41

Ancient Art

On view, 1st floor, Numismatics

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.


Marble, probably Luna


13 × 8 1/4 × 9 1/4 in. (33 × 21 × 23.5 cm)

Credit Line

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

Accession Number



Imperial, Julio-Claudian


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.



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.
  • 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
  • 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
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

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

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

View IIIF manifest

The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is an open standard for delivering high-quality, attributed digital objects online at scale. Visit iiif.io to learn more

Linked Art

API response for this object

Linked Art is a Community working together to create a shared Model based on Linked Open Data to describe Art.