Galleria Borghese logo
Search results for
No results :(

Hints for your search:

  • Search engine results update instantly as soon as you change your search key.
  • If you have entered more than one word, try to simplify the search by writing only one, later you can add other words to filter the results.
  • Omit words with less than 3 characters, as well as common words like "the", "of", "from", as they will not be included in the search.
  • You don't need to enter accents or capitalization.
  • The search for words, even if partially written, will also include the different variants existing in the database.
  • If your search yields no results, try typing just the first few characters of a word to see if it exists in the database.

Colossal head of a divinity, on modern bust

Roman art

Reported in its current location in 1832, the woman’s face on this colossal head is of particular elegance and rigid frontality. The hair framing the face is parted in the middle over the low triangular forehead, and the figure’s elongated eyes are topped by sharply defined, wide eyebrows. The sculpture seems to belong to a group of similar works inspired by fifth-century originals from the Peloponnese. The circular incision of the pupils suggests a date of the second century CE.

Object details

II sec. d.C.
fine grain white marble
height of the head cm 43

Borghese Collection, in Room 6 in 1832 (Nibby, p. 110). Inventario fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, C., p. 51, no. 146. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 19th century- Restoration work: lower part of the neck, the nose; fill on top of the head and across the entire back part of the sculpture, except the left ear and the area behind it. The torso is modern.
  • 1996–97 - Liana Persichelli


This colossal female head is set on a modern bust. The elongated, oval-shaped face has clearly defined features, a full chin and a strong jaw. The curve of the sharply defined brows stretches from the swollen upper eyelids to the sides of the nose, which has a broad, flat bridge. The tear ducts of the elongated eyes are clearly defined, and the pupils are marked with circular incisions. The long, thin lips, which are partially open, are slightly turned up at the corners. The figure’s hair is a mass of barely incised wavy curls, parted in the middle and gathered into two voluminous, symmetrical bands that reveal the triangle of the forehead and partially cover the ears. The hair ends in a low knot in the back (modern).

In 1832, Nibby mentioned the sculpture in Room 6: ‘in front of the door to the garden, [there is] a colossal head of Lucilla in Pentelic marble set on a cipolin rock’ (p. 110). In 1893, Venturi identified it as a depiction of Juno or Cybele and dated it to the second century (p. 42). According to Arndt, the Borghese head belongs to a group of similar sculptures inspired by fifth-century models from Corinth and Sikyon. The others in the group include one in the Museo Chiaramonti at the Vatican, one in the Richmond Collection, one in the Lansdowne House Collection and one that was found in Formia (1912, pp. 49–54). Calza agrees with Arndt’s theory and considers the sculpture a Neo-Attic variant of a fifth-century original (1957, p. 7, no. 12).

The Borghese sculpture, which differs from the Richmont-Lansdowne exemplar in its softer rendering of the forehead and from the Chiaramonti variant in its less clearly defined facial shape, seems to be datable to the second century CE, especially considering the slight incision of the pupils.

Giulia Ciccarello

  • A. Nibby, Monumenti scelti della Villa Borghese, Roma 1832, p. 110, n.2.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano della Villa Borghese, Roma 1840, p. 21, n. 5.
  • A. Nibby, Roma nell’anno 1838, Roma 1841, p. 922, n. 5.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano della Villa Borghese, Roma 1854 (1873), p. 24, n. 5.
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 42.
  • P. Arndt, La Glyptothèque Ny-Carlsberg: les monuments antiques, München 1912, pp. 49-54, in part. p. 50.
  • G. Giusti, The Borghese Gallery and the Villa Umberto I in Rome, Roma 1919, p. 42.
  • Photographische Einzelaufnahmen antiker Sculpturen, X, 1 Munchen 1926, p. 14, nn. 2752-2753 (G. Lippold).
  • P. Della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese in Roma, (3° Edizione) Roma 1954, p. 19.
  • R. Calza, Catalogo del Gabinetto fotografico Nazionale, Galleria Borghese, Collezione degli oggetti antichi, Roma 1957, p. 12
  • P. Moreno, Museo e Galleria Borghese, La collezione archeologica, Roma 1980, p. 17.
  • P. Moreno, S. Staccioli, Le collezioni della Galleria Borghese, Milano 1981, p. 100.
  • P. Moreno, A. Viacava, I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese. La collezione archeologica di Camillo e Francesco Borghese, Roma 2003, pp. 223-224, n. 208.
  • Scheda di catalogo 12/01008468, P. Moreno 1976; aggiornamento G. Ciccarello 2020.