Galba; Otho; Vitellius; Vespasian; Titus; Domitian. 🖼️ Print available here

Appearance of The Principate [Pt. II]

68–96: Year of the Four Emperors and Flavian dynasty

Daniel Voshart
4 min readJul 24, 2020


Using the neural-net tool Artbreeder, Photoshop and historical references, I have created photoreal depictions of Roman Emperors. Scroll down to see each emperor.

ON CREATIVE COMMONS & COPYRIGHT: Faces can be shared non-watermarked at 200 pixels max height OR 512 pixels with the digital mosaic watermark with Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Please link back to this page. Continuation of this project depends on prints, licensing and commissions.

*CONCISE UPDATE (July 31st) replacing a July 27th CLARIFICATION: ‘TheApricity’, a tertiary source, has been removed entirely. I knew it to be unreliable prior to starting this project but kept here for posterity and debate. It is now clear to me they have distorted primary and secondary sources to push a pernicious white supremacist agenda. I am instead quoting Davide Cocci who has provided, what I believe to be, a more reliable translation.

A primary Greek text by John Malalas has also been removed. Three Emperors on this page: Vitellius, Titus and Domitian were given blond hair based on this source. Had I known better, I would have defaulted to brown hair and likely would have chosen a darker skin tone.

Galba: (Upper Left) Musei Capitolini Rome; (R) Same, but before repair (?); (LL) Museum of Antiquities Stockholm.


68–69 (Died aged 72 — Murdered by Praetorian Guard in coup led by Otho)

  • Born: Terracina, Italia
  • Hair: “grey/white-haired” (μιξοπόλιος) (Malalas, X, 258) (via Theapricity **see clarification above) head bald”
  • Eyes: blue eyes (“oculis caeruleis” — Suet. Gal. 21) (via Cocci)
  • Skin: “face and forehead wrinkled” (via Canter)
  • Other: “feet and hands so crippled by gout that he could not wear a shoe or turn the leaves of a book” (via Canter)
  • Height: “Medium height with no hair, a hooked nose and a heavyset body disfigured by arthritis and gout.” (Suetonious) (via Collector)
Otho (v1): ↖️ Louvre; ↗️ Painting by Peter Paul Rubens; ↙️ British Museum; ↘️ Uffizi Gallery Florence
Otho (v2): Rather than guessing at inconsistent wig depictions, I have rendered him without a wig and bare shoulders.


69–69 (Died aged 36 — Committed suicide after losing Battle of Bedriacum to Vitellius)

  • Born: Ferentinum, Italia
  • Hair: “a well-made toupee covered his practically bald head.” (Suetonius) (via ) “Otho had his whole body shaved and used a special unguent on a daily basis in order to prevent the growing of a beard.” (via Historum)
  • Eyes:
  • Skin: “rubbedhis face with moistened breadto prevent having a beard, or shaved often; removed the hair from his body” (via Canter)
  • Other:
  • Height: “average height and build.” (via Historum) “Low of stature; ill set on his feet and bowlegged” (Suetonius Otho) (via Canter)
Vitellius (v1): ↖️ Louvre*; ↗️ Painting by Peter Paul Rubens; ↙️ New Carlsberg Gylototek; ↘️ Rubens House Antwerp. [*Pseudo-Vitellius]
Vitellius (v2): Darker hair and eyes. Disregarding previous source John Malalas. Also: Influenced by 17th century bust by Francesco-Righetti in style of bronze ↘️ Reubens House.


69–69 (Died aged 54 — Murdered by Vespasian’s troops)

  • Born: Rome, Italia
  • Hair:
  • Eyes:
  • Skin: “face red from drunkenness” (via Canter)
  • Other: “huge abdomen of the glutton” (via Canter)
  • Height: “abnormally tall” (via Canter)
Vespasian (v1): ↖️ Louvre; ↗️ Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge (original: Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek c. 70 CE); ↙️ Capitoline Museum; ↘️ National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy.
Vespasian (v2): Weighted more heavily to ↗ ️Museum of Classical Archeology bust which is believed to be less idealized. Head proportions more influenced by ↙️ Capitoline Museum.


69–79 (Died Aged 69 — Natural causes)

  • Born: Falacrine, Italia
  • Hair: — “head bald” (via Canter)
  • Eyes:
  • Skin:
  • Other:
  • Height: “in stature short, square built, strong limbed” (via Canter)
Titus (v1): ↖️ Museo Nazionale, Naples; ↗️ Archaeological Museum Théo Desplans, France; ↙️ British Museum
Titus (v2): Darker hair and eyes, disregarding unreliable citation of John Malalas which described Titus as having blond hair. More facial hair according to coinage.


79–81 (Died aged 41 — Natural causes)

Father: Vespasian.

Brother: Domitian.

  • Born: Rome, Italia
  • Hair:
  • Eyes:
  • Skin:
  • Other:
  • Height: “body not tall, but very strong; neck thick; abdomen somewhat prominent; physical strength sufficient for most arts of war and peace” (via Canter)
Domitian (v1): ↖️ Vatican Museum, Vatican City, Italy; ↗️ Altes Museum Berlin; ↙️ National Archaeological Museum, Venice, Italy (16th century); ↘️ Louvre Paris; + Also: Toledo Museum of Art; Capitoline Museum, Rome; National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy (c.1500–1577)
Domitian (v2): More influence from balding ↗️ Altes Museum Berlin bust. Darker hair and eyes, disregarding unreliable citation of John Malalas which described Domitian as having blond hair.


81–96 (Died aged 44 — Assassinated by court officials)

Father: Vespasian

Brother: Titus

  • Born: Rome, Italia
  • Hair: Wore a wig.
  • Eyes: “eyes large, but not sharp-sighted” (via Canter)
  • Skin: “face modest and with tendency to blush” (via Canter)
  • Other: “in later years exhibited pallor of body, bloated cheeks, and a haughty, savage, terror-inspiring, shameless countenance” (via Canter)
  • Height: “In stature tall” (via Canter)


This is a quarantine project by Daniel Voshart. 🖼️ Prints available here.