The beautifully engraved draped portrait bust is probably of the Empress Julia Domna, who is depicted in profile to the left. Her wavy hair is pulled back over her ears and tied in an upwards double plait at the back of her head.
Dr. Paul Ilton (d. 1958), New York; thence by descent
Christie’s, New York, 7 December 1995, lot 64
American private collection, Philadelphia, acquired from the above sale
Domna was the second wife of the Emperor Septimus Severus, whom she married in AD 185. She outlived her husband by six years, witnessed the murder of her son
Geta, and finally died or committed suicide in AD 217 upon hearing of the death
of her other son, Emperor Caracalla. Her distinctive likeness is clearly
recognised in many surviving portraits on coins, in marble and on engraved
gems. See for example her portrait on an aureus in the Museo Nazionale, Naples,
no. 68 in Breglia, Roman Imperial Coins.