Faustina the Elder
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Gift of J. Paul Getty
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Roman, from Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), A.D. 140 - 160
H: 82 5/16 in.

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Annia Galeria Faustina, known as Faustina the Elder, was the wife of Antoninus Pius, who ruled the Roman empire from A.D. 137 to 161. She probably married Antoninus Pius about A.D. 110 and they had four children. The marriage appears to have been quite loving compared to others in the Imperial family. Although she died twenty years before him, Antoninus Pius did not remarry. On her death in A.D. 141, Antoninus Pius declared Faustina divine and built a temple in her honor in the Roman Forum.

Portraits of Faustina can be identified by her distinctive hairstyle and facial features. This slightly over life-size statue combines a conventional portrait head for the empress with a standardized body type, referred to as a "Large Herculaneum Woman" by scholars. The size of this statue indicates that it occupied a public space, perhaps a city square or a temple dedicated to the divine Faustina. Although they are now missing, Faustina may have held attributes of poppies and ears of wheat in her lowered left hand. That being the case, this statue would have portrayed the empress in the guise of Ceres, the goddess of fertility.