A cameo portrait of the Roman Emperor Claudius I, who ruled from 41 to 56 AD.

This fragment shows the head laureate of the Emperor and his characteristic features, clearly idealized. The sardonyx stone used here is horizontally stratified and carved so that the flesh is semi-transparent blue-white, the hair an opaque pure white and the wreath and background a tortoiseshell brown. Tentatively attributed to the famous gem-engraver Herophilos, the son of Dioskourides, the head is in perfect condition except for the loss of ribbons at the back that would probably have been of exceptional size.

Provenance

Sir Bernard Oppenheimer