Statue of Septimius Severus

Statue of Septimius Severus
Rome (Italy)
1st-3rd cent. CE (head from the 17th cent. CE)
Bronze ; H.215 cm

This is one of the few large bronze Roman statues to have come down to us. It was discovered in fragments, missing a right arm and head, in 1643, during construction works carried out on the Janiculum in Rome under Pope Urban VIII. Quickly identified as Emperor Septimius Severus, it was restored as such by the baroque sculptor Paolo Naldini, who worked with Bernini.

The idealized body is that of a man with drapery around his hips and highly ornate shoes with overhanging flaps decorated a lion head (mullei). This costume conveys that he is an emperor or a personification of the Roman people. While the right arm does not follow an ancient model, the head is an excellent copy of the main portrait type of Septimius Severus.

The sculpture was for centuries one of the most celebrated statues in Rome. It was acquired by the Belgian state in 1904 with the support of a group of donors.


Discover this masterpiece in the gallery Rome and in the book Masterpieces of the Cinquantenaire Museum.