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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Highlights of Roman art from the Louvre" (PDF). American Federation of Arts. p. 3. Retrieved 23 Aug 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Lawrence Keppie (1998). The Making of the Roman Army: From Republic to Empire. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 233–234. ISBN 0806130148.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Boris Rankov (1994). The Praetorian Guard. Osprey Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 1855323613.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Рельеф с преторианцами (in Russian). Retrieved 23 Aug 2014.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>