Portrait of a man in encaustic on limewood: the panel is fissured from the upper edge through the proper right ear. It has been cut on the right-hand side. The lower edge is unpainted. The greyish background is obscured above the head by marks of wrappings. The wax was melted after excavation and a thin layer of paraffin wax applied.
The garments are rendered impressionistically; the paint is unusually thick, and in places appears to have been applied with fingers. The subject wears a white tunic with violet clavi appearing on both sides. The white mantle is worn over the proper left shoulder and disappears behind the neck. The garments are drawn in pink, also used to shade the face and neck.
The dark curly hair is cut close to the head. The eyebrows are lightly arched and the large eyes are unevenly set. The full, reddish-pink lips are turned down. Shading around the chin and cheeks suggests a swarthy appearance. The contour is carelessly drawn in brown.
- Excavated/Findspot: Hawara, Petrie AJ
- (Africa,Egypt,Middle Egypt,Faiyum,Hawara)
- Height: 42.5 centimetres
- Width: 20.9 centimetres
- Thickness: 0.2 centimetres
The rendering of the hair and the shape of the face recall portraits of the Emperor Titus (AD 79-81).
W. M. F. Petrie, 'Hawara, Biahmu and Arsinoe' (1889), 46, pl. 10, 13;
K. Parlasca, 'Ritratti di Mummie'. In A. Adriani (ed.), 'Repertorio d'arte dell'Egitto greco-romano'. 2 ser. I (1969), 39, no. 39 (bibl.), pl. 13, 1;
E. Doxiadis, 'The Mysterious Fayum Portraits. Faces from Ancient Egypt' (1995), 196, no. 34;
B. Borg, ‘Mumienporträts. Chronologie und kulterelle Kontext (1996), 72, 85, 97;
E. Doxiadis 1998, 139 no. 11 with pl. p. 39;
M. F. Aubert and R. Cortopassi 'Portraits de l'Égypte Romaine' (1998), pp. 102-03, no. 54;
Parlasca and Seeman 1999, 115-16 no. 15.
S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, 'Fayum. Misteriosi volti dall'Egitto', London 1997, p. 76 .
'Portraits: De l’Egypte Romaine', Paris 1998, pp. 102-103 .
S. Walker, 'Ancient Faces', New York 2000, pp. 45-46 .
1997 15 Oct-1998 30 Apr, Italy, Rome, Fondazione Memmo, Ancient Faces
2010 1 Feb-18 Jun, Essen- The Great Game.
2011 30 May-24 Jul. Spain,Madrid, Museo Arqueologico Nacional. 'Retratos de le Fayum'. Bussac, Claude.
9 February 2010
Reason for analysis
Analysis of a white bloom on an Egyptian funerary portrait of a man (Roman period, encaustic on lime wood panel, EA74718, 1994,0521.16)
A whitish bloom was observed on the surface an Egyptian funerary portrait of a man, carried out in encaustic on lime wood and dating from 80-100 AD (Roman period). Samples removed from the portrait were investigated using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy, showing them to contain a mixture of beeswax and gypsum.After the removal of the bloom by conservators it is recommended that the environment during storage, travel and display of the piece, whilst on loan and on its return to the Museum, be carefully monitored and controlled so as to avoid excesses of humidity and temperature which may lead to re-appearance of the bloom and risk further damage to the portrait.
Analysis reference number
Formerly National Gallery 3139. This portrait was bequeathed to the National Gallery in 1916 by Mr Algernon Brent. Described by his executors as an Egyptian portrait discovered by Doctor Flinders Petrie in Egypt, bequeathed to him by his late brother Cecil Brent FSA. See information from the NG on file [Nov 2005, NCS]. AES Archive 548.
Ancient Egypt & Sudan
- National Gallery 3139
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Object reference number: YCA60741
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