Togatus Barberini

Togatus Barberini is a Roman marble sculpture from around the first-century AD[1] that depicts a full-body figure, referred to as a togatus, holding the heads of deceased ancestors in either hand.[2] It is housed in the Centrale Montemartini in Rome, Italy (formerly in the Capitoline Museums).[1] Little is known about this sculpture and who it depicts, but it is speculated to be a representation of the Roman funerary practice of creating death masks.[3]

Togatus Barberini
Togato Barberini.jpg
Dimensions165 cm (65 in)
LocationCapitoline Museums, Rome
Coordinates41°53′35″N 12°28′57″E / 41.8931°N 12.4825°E / 41.8931; 12.4825
OwnerCapitoline Museums
AccessionMC 2392

Speculation of identityEdit

Little is known about the identity of those depicted in the sculpture, but it is known that the type of shoes the middle figure is depicted to wear distinguishes them as a member of the Roman noble class.[1] From this small bit of information, many theories have risen in speculation of the true identity of the center figure, but little evidence has been provided to back up many of these claims and as such they remain only theories.

Recent research has suggested that represents a patrician senator, holding the heads of his ancestors. The head on the right is that of a famous general, which is evident thanks to the palm-tree support.[2] Furthermore, it is now known that the head and body of the middle figure do not, in fact, belong to each other, evident due to the marble of the head and body being of different types and colors (the head being a white marble and the body being a yellow).[2][4] This is made more evident due to the toga's finish from behind and the evidence of the restoration of the nose and ears.[2]

According to some, the figure is supposed to represent Brutus, holding the severed heads of his two sons, while others claim that instead it is the portrait of a sculptor. Other still believe the prominent figure to be that of Julius Caesar,[2] while many simply claim that the figure is an unknown Roman senator.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Pollini, J. O. H. N. "Ritualizing Death in Republican Rome: Memory, Religion, Class Struggle, and the Wax Ancestral Mask Tradition’s Origin and Influence on Veristic Portraiture’." Performing Death: Social Analyses of Funerary Traditions in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean (2007): 237-85.
  2. ^ a b c d e Esdaile, Katharine A. "A Statue in the Palazzo Barberini." Journal of Roman Studies 1 (1911): 206-211.
  3. ^ Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew. "Harriet I. Flower. Ancestor Masks and Aristocratic Power in Roman Culture. New York: Clarendon Press of Oxford University Press. 1996. Pp. xvii, 411." The American Historical Review 104.1 (1999): 233-234.
  4. ^ Gramberg, Werner. "TOMB OF POPE PAUL III FARNESE."
  5. ^ Spivey, Nigel, and Michael Squire. Panorama of the classical world. Getty Publications, 2011.