Praetorians Relief

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Praetorians Relief
Lens - Inauguration du Louvre-Lens le 4 décembre 2012, la Galerie du Temps, n° 058.JPG
Artist Unknown
Year c. 51–52
Type High relief, bas-relief
Material Grey veined marble
Dimensions 160 cm × 122 cm (63 in × 48 in)
Condition Extant
Location Louvre-Lens, France
Accession LL.398

The Praetorians Relief is a Roman marble relief dated to c. 51–52 AD and housed in the Louvre-Lens.[1] The relief depicts three soldiers in high relief in the foreground, while two others in the background, accompanied by a standard bearer, are made in bas-relief. The standard-bearer holds an aquila standard, where the eagle grasps a thunderbolt in its talons. The soldiers have been identified as Praetorians due to the richness of the apparel, particularly the helmets, the ceremonial dress and oval shields.[2] The figures are wearing calcei and not caligae, worn by ordinary soldiers. However, according to Boris Rankov, "the Attic-style helmets are almost certainly an artistic convention".[3] Rankov suggests that "early in their history the Praetorians were still using the Montefortino-style helmet normal in the legions of the Republic and early Empire".[3]

The relief was previously dated to the early 2nd century AD. The lower half of the left-hand figure, portions of the middle two and the heads of all three foreground figures are modern restorations. In 2006 the relief underwent restoration by N. Imbert and A. Méthivier.[4]


The Praetorians Relief was once part of the Arch of Claudius, erected in 51 to commemorate the conquest of Britain.[1] The relief is mentioned already in the 16th century. The head of the standard-bearer is depicted in Album by Pierre Jacques de Reims, on the page dated to 1577.[4] The relief was once in the possession of the Mattei family, in 1824 it was purchased by the French.


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