Side opposite Augustus
original north side

Processional Frieze - Details of Heads

This processional frieze on the original north side of the Ara Pacis combines largely original Augustan carving of the clothed bodies with 18th century replacements and recarving of nearly all the heads.

The only heads to survive with their original carving are the few profiles in very low relief, barely emerging from the background. Although worn, these capture the characteristic verism of Roman portrait sculpture. Even the very low relief figures at the left of this procession, seen here on a plaster cast of the original marble slab in the Louvre, convey the character of the original Ara Pacis. The recarved heads, however, give the impression that Roman portraiture could be neo-classical in style. Judging by the few Renaissance drawings that record some of these figural slabs, about half of the heads are complete recreations rather than recarvings of the original Ara Pacis heads.

Although we wish that the original, damaged Augustan heads had not been recarved, the recarved heads are recongized for the remarkable skill of the sculptor, Francesco Carradori. Carradori was also a famous teacher and author of an important 1802 book on sculpture, Instruzione Elementare per gli Studiosi della Scultura, which includes brief sections on restoring ancient sculpture. Although given little attention in publications on the Ara Pacis, these heads provide examples of late 18th century master carving.

The figures are identified and numbered in accordance with the official museum guiddbook (Rossini, 2006).