It is always so amazing to me that any of these sculptures survived at all, let alone survived relatively intact! Each one has a story, both of its creation and its preservation, but most of those are lost to us. This is one of several surviving portraits of the emperor Caracalla. It's dated between 209 and 215 AD, now housed in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It's made of marble and stands approximately 50 cm high. It was formerly part of the Hirsh Collection, purchased by the museum in 1957. Caracalla, a member of the Severan dynasty, was born in 188 and died in 217. He initially ruled jointly with his father from 198 until 211. He was one of the soldier emperors, hence the manner in which he is portrayed, adorned in a military cloak rather than a toga, the garment of peace.
The Louvre Palace complex is located on the Right Bank of the Seine, directly across from another famous museum and former train station, the D'Orsay Museum. The former palace's origin dates back about a thousand years; it was first mentioned in 1198. The ancient foundations and towers can still be seen by visitors. There is a model located under the Room of the Caryatids that shows what the original palace looked like. It was once a fortified palace which resembled many other high-walled castles, and served as the seat of the French nobility until Louis XIV moved to Versailles in 1682. The present structure, remodeled to include royal apartments by Charles V was begun in 1535, and it has been extended significantly since the sixteenth century. Francois I and Henri II remodeled the structure completely. Perhaps it was eventually turned into a huge museum because of ties to the world of arts: Henri IV added a Grand Galarie along the Seine, the longest of its kind in the world at the time. He was also a great patron of the arts, and even invited hundreds of artists and craftsmen to live and work in the palace, a tradition which continued for two centuries, until the reign of Napoleon III. The museum is the second largest but the most visited in the world, housing famous works such as the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and many other important and unique collections. A record 8.3 million visitors passed through the complex in 2006.
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