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Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in United States
Marcus Aurelius: Portrait of a Roman Emperor



Artist Unknown. Cuirass Statue with Portrait of Marcus Aurelius, body: A.D. 69–98; head: A.D. 144–145Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung, Sk 368.Photography provided by the J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © The J. Paul Getty Museum. Photo courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago
Artist Unknown. Cuirass Statue with Portrait of Marcus Aurelius, body: A.D. 69–98; head: A.D. 144–145
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung, Sk 368.
Photography provided by the J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © The J. Paul Getty Museum.
Photo courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago
Marcus Aurelius: Portrait of a Roman Emperor
UNITED STATES
CHICAGO  •  The Art Institute of Chicago  •  Ongoing
 
This magnificent curiass statue with a portrait of Marcus Aurelius is making a year-long stopover at the Art Institute of Chicago, on its way home to the Pergamon Musuem in Berlin after being conserved at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The statue was made in two parts at different times. The body was carved between A.D. 69–98 and the portrait was sculptured about A.D. 144–45. Although it is uncertain when the head and body were joined, it was not uncommon for statues to have interchangeable heads in ancient times.

Marcus Aurelius ruled Rome from A.D. 161–180, when the empire was at its greatest extent and enjoying a period of relative prosperity. He was a thoughtful and intelligent leader, who cared deeply for his people and detested all forms of violence. A devoted student of Stoicism, a philosophy that encouraged individuals to think and act responsibly and unselfishly, Marcus Aurelius embodied the ideal ruler defined by the Greek philosopher Plato about 500 years earlier. He kept a journal of his most private thoughts, which survives today in a book called Meditations.

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