Photographing Roman sculpture

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve updated – life has rather overtaken me.

For this entry, I thought I’d share a few of the photographs of Roman and Hellenistic sculpture I’ve taken over the years in various museums in Rome.  I’ll start with my favourite…

This is the original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, housed in the Capitoline Museums. It only survives because it was thought for a long time to be the Christian emperor Constantine. I like it because he looks so benevolent! A replica now stands in the Piazza del Campidoglio.

Marcus Aurelius

The original equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (Capitoline Museums)

I’m very pleased with this photo I took of a bust of Paris in the small museum on the Palatine Hill a couple of years ago. He looks very pensive , and though this photo makes it look big, the sculpture is actually quite petite.


Paris (Palatine Antiquarium)

Next we have something really interesting:  a statue which still has traces of gilding and paint on it.  This gives us an impression of how statues would originally have looked in antiquity.  Though there is undoubtedly something romantic about a pure white marble statue, they would originally have looked a lot more realistic – as you can see with the eyes painted on, for example. I like the contrast in this photo between the red and gold on the statue and the green background.

gilded statue

A statue with traces of paint and gilding (Montemartini museum)

The next photo shows the most famous frieze from the Ara Pacis – Augustus’ Altar of Peace.  The iconography of this monument is complex, but overall it was designed to show Augustus’ reign as heralding a new era of peace and prosperity. Here the imperial family is shown as the model of traditional family values – and fertility (note the children are shown, demonstrating that there would be heirs to Augustus who would continue his work).

Ara Pacis

The Ara Pacis (Ara Pacis Museum)

This last photo is of the bronze statue known as the Terme Ruler.  There has been much debate over the age of the statue and who it depicts; some have argued that it is a victorious Roman general shown in heroic nudity in the style of a Hellenistic king, while others (and I believe this is the generally accepted opinion) believe that it is actually a Hellenistic king. Either way, it ended up in Rome and it has graffiti on its rear which appears to indicate that it was imported. That’s about all I can remember about it for now!

Terme Ruler

The face of the Terme Ruler (Terme Museum)

About Rachel Ingram

I graduated from Oxford University in 2009 with an MA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History from St John's College. After graduating I worked as a Geographic Researcher at, spending lots of time researching and writing travel guides to worldwide destinations, developing my copywriting skills. After working as a copywriter and content consultant at (formerly SEOptimise), where I most enjoyed working with travel clients, I went self-employed. I now divide my time between freelance copywriting and running the business I set up with my boyfriend - - selling aviation gift experiences. In my spare time I'm training for a Private Pilot's Licence, and I also enjoy travelling, wine and baking. My favourite authors are Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Bill Bryson.
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