Portrait of Agrippina the Younger
Unknown artist, Roman
Portrait of Agrippina the Younger, ca. 40 CE
Marble (from Paros) head, and 18th-century colored marble bust
Height: 81.6 cm (32 1/8 inches)
Anonymous gift 56.097
Agrippina the Younger (15-59 CE) was a powerful woman, the sister, wife, and mother to three different emperors. According to ancient authors, Agrippina’s brother Caligula sent her into exile for her involvement in a conspiracy. Agrippina is said to have poisoned Claudius (her uncle and husband) so that her son Nero might become emperor. She ruled in Nero’s name while he was young, but he eventually turned against her and ordered her murder. Agrippina reportedly wrote an autobiography, which has not survived. Her portraits thus provide the only clues to how she wished to be represented during her lifetime. Only the head of RISD’s portrait is ancient. The colored marble elements of her garments and statue base are eighteenth-century embellishments.