Praetorians Relief

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Praetorians Relief
MBALyon2018 - Expo Claude - Relief Pretoriens - cropped foreground.jpg
Yearc. 51–52
TypeHigh relief, bas-relief
Dimensions163 cm (64 in) × 134 cm (53 in) × 28 cm (11 in)
LocationLouvre-Lens, France
CollectionDepartment of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities of the Louvre Edit this on Wikidata
Accession No.Ma 1079 Edit this on Wikidata

The Praetorians Relief is a Roman marble relief dated to c. 51–52 AD and housed in the Louvre-Lens.[1]

It 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. ^ a b "Highlights of Roman art from the Louvre" (PDF). American Federation of Arts. p. 3. Retrieved 23 Aug 2014.
  2. ^ Lawrence Keppie (1998). The Making of the Roman Army: From Republic to Empire. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 233–234. ISBN 0806130148.
  3. ^ a b Boris Rankov (1994). The Praetorian Guard. Osprey Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 1855323613.
  4. ^ a b Рельеф с преторианцами (in Russian). Retrieved 23 Aug 2014.