Azara herm

Azara herm: best portrait of Alexander the Great, now in the Louvre (Paris).

Alexander the Great

The Azara herm is a Roman copy of a bust of Alexander the Great that was almost certainly made by the Greek sculptor Lysippus. It is the only portrait of the Macedonian king of which we know that it was ordered by Alexander himself. In his Life of Alexander, Plutarch of Chaeronea says that

the outward appearance of Alexander is best represented by the statues of him which Lysippus made, and it was by this artist alone that Alexander himself thought it fit that he should be modelled. For those peculiarities which many of his successors and friends afterwards tried to imitate, namely, the poise of the neck, which was bent slightly to the left, and the melting glance of his eyes, this artist has accurately observed.note

The Azara herm itself is now in the Louvre in Paris, unfortunately placed in front of a window, so that it is very difficult to make adequate photos. Yet is is clear that the sculptor did not idealize the king; it is the only portrait that represents what Alexander really looked like.

This page was created in 2004; last modified on 5 May 2016.