Provenance: From a marble purchased in Rome in early 1754 by Matthew Brettingham for 10 crowns.
This is the earliest public version of Marcus, and shows a young boy with an oval face, and a profusion of windblown curls, probably created in 138 AD. In the carving of the hair, the artist gave full rein to his technical skill – it is heavily undercut from the flesh so as to throw the face into relief. The garments were copied fastidiously, and the gifted artist has captured the essence of a delicately refined and melancholic youth, who was destined to become one of the most celebrated rulers of the Roman Empire.
Stylistic similarities suggest that this bust and the bust of Caracalla were intended to be displayed as a pair.