Bust of Eutropios
Ephesus, late 5th century
Marble, 32 x 14 cm
Head broken off a bust, with part of left shoulder adhering, right part of neck and back missing; tip of nose and left nostril broken off. Bust had been on a wall console which bore an inscription identifying the subject as Eutropios, an official of the street-building commission of the city of Ephesus. The portrait depicts an elderly man with a long, narrow face whose features are exaggerated by the outlines of the hair masses above and below. Lines and grooves delineate features within large abstract curvilinear shapes: a few grooves separate each lock of hair, and two horizontal and two vertical lines mark the forehead. The eyebrows are strongly arched, and the upper lids follow the contours of the brows. The head is turned sharply to the left. The back of the head is only roughly worked, and there is a hole in the top of the skull.
The nearly hollow cheeks exaggerate the size of the eyes. The basic forms derive from those of the "older magistrate" at Aphrodisias of the previous generation, but here they are reduced in all aspects—modeling, relief, linearity: "Even the elongated proportions seem to be a stylistic device rather than a characteristic belonging to the person portrayed". Though similar in general to the form of the head of Boethius on his consular diptych of 487, the closest resemblance—closer than to other similar heads found at Ephesus—is to the head of the Colossus of Barletta, which is no doubt closely related in date.
Though the formula on which the head of Eutropios was built was altered by later sculptors, it remained fundamental to the portrayal of seers and saints throughout the Byzantine period.