Portraiture of Trajan

Representations of Trajan on the Column: Trajan is portrayed on the Column nearly sixty times (57-60 occurrences; there at least three representations which may or may not refer to the emperor).  He is routinely shown in profile or three-quarter view; only in Scene 20/XX is he shown nearly frontally.  His head is always bare when in battle dress, although he is frequently shown in armor (about 50% of the representations).  When flanked by officers or advisors, he is usually placed in the middle of the composition, and is generally rendered just slightly taller.  He is shown presiding over sacrifice six times, three times with his head covered with a veil.  He is visible 19 times on the principal “facade” of the shaft (southeast), which faced the Basilica Ulpia and the forum square itself, although the basilica would have masked this side of the Column from those standing in the forum.

Close-up of images of Trajan on the Column suggest that a number of different artists were responsible for portraying the emperor.  The 3×3 grids viewable in the gallery below show a range of treatments of the emperor’s hair, eyes, and facial proportions.

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Close-ups of Trajan from the Column of Trajan

[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portrait-grids/thumbs/thumbs_sacrifice-2-bw-web.jpg]41420Trajan at sacrifice (2): portrait grid
On the Column of Trajan, from left to right (profile top and side/three-quarter view bottom).<br />1. (Left, top and bottom): A lustration scene (part of a suovetaurilia) in a Roman camp, with Trajan as chief priest (Scene 103). Compare Cichorius Pl. LXXVI and Coarelli Pl. 124.<br />2. (Middle, top and bottom): Trajan presides over a sacrifice in a camp; part of a suovetaurilia scene (Scene 53). Compare Cichorius Pl. XXXVIII and Coarelli Pl. 54.<br />3. (Right, top and bottom): Trajan making a sacrifice in a harbor town (Scene 86). Compare Cichorius Pl. LXIII and Coarelli Pl. 101.<br />Images from casts in the Museo della Civiltà Romana.<br />(Photos by Ulrich; Image Grid by Z. Mei).
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portrait-grids/thumbs/thumbs_sequence-1-bw-web.jpg]39891Trajan as a receiver of subordinates: portrait grid
On the Column of Trajan, from left to right (profile top and side/three-quarter view bottom).<br />1. (Left, top and bottom): A seated Trajan greets and rewards auxiliaries (Scene 44). Compare Cichorius Pl. XXXIV and Coarelli Pl. 48.<br />2. (Middle, top and bottom): Trajan is petitioned by Dacians (Scene 46). Compare Cichorius Pl. XXXV and Coarelli Pl. 49.<br />3. (Right, top and bottom): Trajan receives a group of legionaries at a mountain fortress (Scene 50). Compare Cichorius Pl. XXXVI and Coarelli Pl. 52.<br />Images from casts in the Museo della Civiltà Romana.<br />(Photos by Ulrich; Image Grid by Z. Mei).
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portrait-grids/thumbs/thumbs_horseback-1-bw.jpg]35871Images of Trajan on horseback: portrait grid
On the Column of Trajan, from left to right (profile top and side/three-quarter view bottom).<br />1. (Left, top and bottom): Trajan on horseback leads the calvary (Scene 90). Compare Cichorius Pl. LXV and Coarelli Pl. 104.<br />2. (Middle, top and bottom): Trajan rides towards a Dacian fort (Scene 97). Compare Cichorius Pl. LXXI and Coarelli Pl. 116.<br />3. (Right, top and bottom): Trajan on horseback is greeted at a city wall (Scene 102). Compare Cichorius Pl. LXXV and Coarelli Pl. 122.<br />Images from casts in the Museo della Civiltà Romana.<br />(Photos by Ulrich; Image Grid by Z. Mei).
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portrait-grids/thumbs/thumbs_sacrifice-1-bw-web.jpg]33982Trajan at sacrifice (1): portrait grid
On the Column of Trajan, from left to right (profile top and side/three-quarter view bottom).<br />1. (Left, top and bottom): Trajan's first sacrifice in front of a Roman camp (Scene 8). Compare Cichorius Pl. X and Coarelli Pl. 8.<br />2. (Middle, top and bottom): Trajan sacrifices before a group of Romans and Dacians (Scene 91). Compare Cichorius Pl. LXVI and Coarelli Pl. 106.<br />3. (Right, top and bottom): Trajan makes an inaugural sacrifice in front of the bridge built over the Danube (Scene 99). Compare Cichorius Pl. LXXII and Coarelli Pl. 118.<br />Images from casts in the Museo della Civiltà Romana.<br />(Photos by Ulrich; Image Grid by Z. Mei).
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portrait-grids/thumbs/thumbs_ad-locutio-1_bw-web.jpg]32981Various poses of Trajan: portrait grid
On the Column of Trajan, from left to right (profile top and side/three-quarter view bottom).<br />1. (Left, top and bottom): Adlocutio (Scene 10). Compare Cichorius Pl. XI and Coarelli Pl. 10.<br />2. (Middle, top and bottom): Trajan interrogates a Dacian prisoner (Scene 18); Compare Cichorius Pl. XIV and Coarelli Pl. 16.<br />3. (Right, top and bottom): Trajan is presented with severed Dacian heads (Scene 24); Compare Cichorius Pl. XVIII and Coarelli Pl. 22.<br />Images from casts in the Museo della Civiltà Romana.<br />(Photos by Ulrich; Image Grid by Z. Mei)

Portraits of Trajan in the Round: A sample of busts and statues of Trajan shows a relatively consistent approach to his official portraiture.  Trajan is generally rendered as youthful yet mature, clean shaven with medium-length hair that is evocative of that worn by Rome’s first emperor, Augustus.  The portrait busts often depict the emperor with a bare chest and a military cloak; the semi-nude portrayal makes reference to the “heroic” style of Hellenistic art.  The examples included here can be compared to those in miniature that were carved on the spiral frieze of the Column.

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Free standing busts and statues of Trajan

[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_cuirass-web.jpg]5010Portrait of Trajan (Copenhagen)
Detail of a full-length statue of Trajan in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen.<br />Ref: RBU2010.2713.
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_london_bm_rbu1539_trajan-web.jpg]5843Bust of Trajan in the British Museum (GR 1805.7-3.93)
A bust on a nude Trajan now in the collections of the British Museum. It belongs to a type corresponding to the decennalia (10th year of rule) of the emperor and thus is dated to 108 CE or later (until 117, the last year of Trajan's reign). Trajan's hairstyle recalls that of the earlier Julio-Claudian emperors, and above all the first of the imperial rulers, Augustus.The nudity of the bust recalls that of heroic Greek renditions of gods and heroes.<br />Inv. GR 1805.7-3.93; BM sculpture cat. 1893. <br />Ref: RBU2010.1539
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_vat_trajan_2269_rbu2488-web.jpg]6573Bust of Trajan (Vatican 2269)
Portrait bust of the emperor Trajan (ruled A.D. 98-117) in the Vatican Museums (inv. 2269). This bust is very similar to that in the collections of the Capitoline Museums. The Vatican dates this bust to 103-117 CE/A.D. <br />Ref: RBU2009.2488.
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_vat_trajan_2269_rbu2489-web.jpg]4461Bust of Trajan (Vatican 2269)
Portrait bust of the emperor Trajan (ruled A.D. 98-117) in the Vatican Museums (inv. 2269). Left side of the face. The Vatican dates this bust to 103-117 CE/A.D.<br />Ref: RBU2009.2489.
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_vat_trajan_2269_rbu2490-web.jpg]4050Bust of Trajan (Vatican 2269)
Portrait bust of the emperor Trajan (ruled A.D. 98-117) in the Vatican Museums (inv. 2269). Frontal view of the face. The Vatican dates this bust to 103-117 CE/A.D. <br />Ref: RBU2009.2490
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_1723front_ppt.jpg]3050Trajan (Copenhagen 1723)
A Roman marble portrait of the emperor Trajan, found in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.<br />In this rendition the emperor is shown in partial "heroic" nudity, and he is shown wearing an aegis (a reference to Jupiter) on his left shoulder.<br />Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek inv. 1723.<br />Total H: 61 cm.<br />Dated to the period of Trajan's reign. <br />Ref: RBU2010.2474
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_1723_ppt.jpg]2770Trajan (Copenhagen 1723)
Ref: RBU2010.2471
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_1723det_ppt.jpg]2560Trajan (Copenhagen 1723)
Ref: RBU2010.2475
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_1723left_ppt.jpg]2490Trajan (Copenhagen 1723)
Ref: RBU2010.2472
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_1723right_ppt.jpg]2540Trajan (Copenhagen 1723)
Ref: RBU2010.2473
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_2571_ppt.jpg]2710Portrait of Trajan (Copenhagen 2571)
Roman portrait of the emperor Trajan, depicted in heroic nudity. Marble, from Rome and now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, inv. 2571.<br />Ref: RBU2010.2477
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_2571b_ppt.jpg]2600Portrait of Trajan (Copenhagen 2571)
Roman marble portrait of the emperor Trajan (98-117), from Rome and now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Inv. 2571.<br />Ref: RBU2010.2478
[img src=http://www.trajans-column.org/wp-content/flagallery/portraits/thumbs/thumbs_copenhagen_trajan_2571c_ppt.jpg]2650Portrait of Trajan (detail) (Copenhagen 2571)
Roman portrait of the emperor Trajan (ruled 98-117): detail of the face of the emperor. Marble, from Rome and now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, inv. 2571<br />Ref: RBU2010.2481

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