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Quintus Hostius Capito

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek


Only a few traces of original paint are found on this portrait bust. This includes red/orange traces in the hair and a few traces of red on the top rim of the right eye. Traces of blue are found in the letters of the inscription .VIL-imaging was performed on the inscription without revealing any presence of Egyptian blue but XRF analysis reveals the prsence of Cu, which may indicate the use of azurite, however VIL-imaging confirms the use of Egyptian blue as small shiny white particles on the skin colour and in the hair.

Description of object

Part of the hair over the forehead, the nose and the left ear is broken off and missing. There is damage to the neck and the back of the head. The uppermost part of the herm as well as the lowest section of the front part of the bust are both new.

Archaeological Commentary

The inscription on the herm: Q HOSTIVS Q F CAPITO RHETOR meaning; this man, Quintus Hostius Capito, son of Quintus, was a teacher of rhetoric.

Choice of methods

Visual examination

  • Macroscopic
  • Microscopic in situ

Technical imaging

  • UV
  • VIL


  • XRF

Visual examination

Red is found on the top rim of the right eye. A compact layer of red/orange is visible on the top of the hair and also small grains of red are sporadically distributed in the hair. Blue is found in the letters of the inscription. Since the blue colour in some of the letters is covered with incrustation this suggests that it probably dates from antiquity

Technical imaging

UV-FL: UV-imaging does not show fluorescent phenomena related to organic lakes or resins. However, the UV-imaging distinguishes the difference between the original surface and the reconstructed areas as the lowest section of the front part of the bust.

VIL: Scattered particles of shiny bright white are seen on the skin in the area above the upper lip. Small particles are also seen in the hair. The characteristic glow of the particles confirms the use of Egyptian blue but no traces have been found by visual examination. VIL-imaging was also performed on the inscription without revealing any presence of Egyptian blue

Other types of investigation

XRF in situ The compact layer of red/orange found in the hair was examined with XRF and showed a high content of iron (Fe) and a weak signal on mercury (Hg), suggesting the use of hematite and cinnabar.

The blue found in the letters was examined and showed a content of copper (Cu) other components detected were Fe, Zn and Pb.


F. Johansen (1994): Roman Portraits I. Catalogue Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, 194-195, cat. no. 85.

  • IN 1436
  • Portrait herm
  • 1st century C.E.
  • Roman Imperial
  • Marble
  • Acquired in 1891 from Count Orsini, through the mediation of Helbig.
  • H. 32 cm.; H. of the herm 112 cm.

Selected photos

  • In1436_t_0
  • In1436_t_90
  • In1436_t_180
  • In1436_t_270
  • In1436_uv_t_0
  • In1436_vil_t_0
  • In1436_vil_t_90
  • In1436_vil_t_270
  • In1436_vil_0_face
  • In1436_d_0_inscription
  • In1436_d_0_inscription_letters
  • In1436_d_0_inscription_letters_2
  • In1436_mi_letter_p_x26
  • In1436_d_90_hair
  • In1436_mi_right_eye_x26
  • In1436_map_t_0
  • In1436_map_t_180