Provenance: From a marble purchased in Rome by Matthew Brettingham and sold to Lord Leicester for £30 in 1749.
The portrait formula, a manifestation of imperial power by sheer brute force, dates to Caracalla's sole reign (212–217 AD). The general message of this type of portrait was to convey the Emperor's strength and resolution, qualities essential in a military leader. The most eye catching component of the composition is the strong leftwards rotation of the head, making the right profile the main vantage point, and in casting pockets of shadows and accentuating the facial furrows, helps to create a glowering expression.
Stylistic similarities suggest that this bust and the bust of Marcus Aurelius were intended to be displayed as a pair.