Portraits of Hadrian

In search of the 150 surviving portraits of Hadrian… 93 portraits gathered so far.

Hadrian was a pleasant man to meet and he possessed a certain charm. Dio Cassius, 69, 2.6

Head of Hadrian, Arco Santo, Capalbio, Italy.


Map of the current locations of the surviving portraits of Hadrian based on “Les portraits d’Hadrien: typologie et ateliers” Cécile Evers & German Archaeological Institute (DAI) http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/

14 thoughts on “Portraits of Hadrian”

  1. Dear Carole, the location of San Fruttuoso, near Genova, Italy, is incorrect: the Marble head inside the wall belongs to Antoninus Pius not Hadrian. Perhaps you may find most portraits of the Emperor around Genova, over the monumental portals of aristochratic mansions and in the Museum of S.Agostino.


  2. Well done!! BRAVO! Do you know how the roman artists worked? Many of them had of course never seen the emperor himself? The camera wasn`t invented, neither printing tecniques for spreading pictures of the face. Did they have plaster copies of a famaous sculpture to copy??


    1. Could you please tell me which ones are not Hadrian and which one is his father? The only doubt I have is about the portrait of Hadrian from Apollonia. I have never heard of a surviving portrait of Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer. Is it one from from Hadrian’s Mausoleum?


  3. In my collection I have a bronze head of Hadrian from the 16th century. It derives from the plaster preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Padua…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your marvellous blog and photographs and share your interest with the great and fascinating Hadrian.

    By far the best portrait I have seen is the appropriately larger than life bronze in the Istanbul Archeological museum. Its a work of the highest quality imaginable, really marvellous, with the patterned and textured material of which the toga is made marvellously captured. Standing, as you must, just below it is I fancy rather like being in the divine presence of the terrifying man himself.

    No photo does it justice and its a great museum so just go


    Many thanks


    1. Hi Richard, thank you for your comment. I have seen and photographed this statue but it may have been misidentified as Hadrian. Indeed, scholars specialised in Hadrian’s portraiture think that it is not representing Hadrian. It was the custom for high ranking officials to be portrayed with the same features of the Emperor.


      1. Yes I actually noticed this after I had located that very poor image and sent my message to you. I jad thought it it very unlikely that you hadnt seen the statue, and was altogether rather embarassed that an ancient wealthy vulgarian had fooled me. Perhaps it was the Merchant who is recorded as having loaned the imperial retinue his deluxe shipping for one of Hadrians Anatolian journeys.

        Having said that I would be very interested to see the analysis that leads to the conclusion that it might be another official. I wasnt aware of the practice, are there prominent examples? In general I would have thought it quite a hazardous course to follow, as I have always understood that, as with the Tudors, control of the image was carefully policed; and the facial similarity to Hadrian is so strong as to make it rather a curious means of boosting ones dignitas.

        Questions of attribution in art history are notoriously fraught with academic feuding and controversy. Theres a very amusing article about the modern process of attribution by Brian Sewell somewhere.



  5. Dear Carole,

    This is a most delightful project! Many thanks for doing and sharing this. I’m an aerospace engineer, but I dabble in things a bit related, and as part of that, I photograph busts of Roman emperors. I have three of Hadrian that are not in your collection and I’m happy to freely share if you’d like them.

    Also, I’ll add a little teaser, there’s a location of a Hadrian bust that is not on your map… 🙂

    Thanks again. This is just wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Joseph,
      Thank you for your kind words. I would love to see your photographs of Hadrian’s portraits and I am really intrigued about the location of a Hadrian bust that is not on my map.


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