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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Portrait of a woman in encaustic on limewood: longitudinal cracks run through part of the panel at intervals. Part of the painted surface is lost to the left of the figure. The background is grey beneath the head and neck, and greenish below the drapery (the green appears at the base of the panel).
    Shown turned in three-quarter view, the subject wears a mauve tunic and a mantle drawn in a deeper shade, with dark red folds. The black clavus over the proper right shoulder is edged with gold and has no stitching. The mantle is worn over the proper left shoulder, its edge rolled back, and may be seen as a line on the proper right shoulder as it falls down the woman's back.
    The jewellery consists of gold ball earrings and a gold necklace with pendant crescent with circular terminals.
    The black hair is centrally parted (the parting is obscured by a crack in the panel). A row of snail curls frames the brow, and banks of them are shown at the sides of the head. The hair is plaited into a low bun at the back of the crown.
    The dark eyes are very round; the arched eyebrows meet over the bridge of the long nose. The pink lips are slightly open. The cheekbones and chin are long and oval; they are tinted pink, with ochre used to model the contours.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 55-70
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 41.6 centimetres
    • Width: 21.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    The strength of the eyes, neck and shoulders render this a powerful portrait, suggesting an athletic quality more appropriate to a male subject.

    The hairstyle, jewellery and drapery indicate a date in the reign of Nero.

    S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, Fayum. Misteriosi volti dall'Egitto, London 1997, p. 72 [42];
    S. Walker, Ancient Faces, New York 2000, pp. 40-41 [3];
    W. M. F. Petrie, 'Roman Portraits and Memphis' IV (1911), pl. 10;
    A. F. Shore, 'Portrait Painting from Roman Egypt' 2 ed. (1972) pl. II;
    K. Parlasca, 'Ritratti di Mummie'. In A. Adriani (ed.), 'Repertorio d'arte dell'Egitto greco-romano'. 2 ser. I (1969), pp. 47048 [80] (bibl.), pl. 19, 3;
    E. Doxiadis, 'The Mysterious Fayum Portraits. Faces from Ancient Egypt' (1995), p. 201 [54], 47;
    B. Borg, ‘Mumienporträts. Chronologie und kulterelle Kontext (1996), p. 166;
    E. Doxiadis 1998, p. 137 [8] with pl. p. 28;
    Parlasca and Seeman 1999,118-9 [19].


  • Bibliography

    • Walker & Bierbrier 1997 18 bibliographic details
    • Walker, S 2000 3 bibliographic details
    • Parlasca & Seeman 1999 p.118, no.19 bibliographic details
  • Location


  • Exhibition history


    1997 15 Oct-1998 30 Apr, Italy, Rome, Fondazione Memmo, Ancient Faces
    2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2005 11 Apr-10 Jul, Seoul Arts Centre, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2005 25 Jul-8 Oct, Busan Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2005 27 Oct-2006 31 Jan, Haengso Museum, Keimyung University, Daegu, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2006 18 Mar-4 Jun, Beijing, Capital Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2007 3 Feb-27 May, Taipei, National Palace Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2007 14 Sep-2 Dec, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2011 30 May-24 Jul. Spain,Madrid, Museo Arqueologico Nacional. 'Retratos de le Fayum'. Bussac, Claude.

  • Condition

    fair - vertical cracks

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Excavated 1888 by Petrie at Hawara (Petrie vv). Formerly National Gallery 1270. Portraits NG 1267-1270 were purchased by the National Gallery in 1888 from Petrie for a total of £95l. See information from the NG on file [Nov 2005, NCS]. AES Archive 548.

  • Department

    Ancient Egypt & Sudan

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • National Gallery 1270
Limewood panel bearing an encaustic portrait of a woman wearing gold ball earrings and crescent pendant; reddish mantle with a mauve tunic with a black clavus edged with gold; vertical fissures.

Limewood panel bearing an encaustic portrait of a woman wearing gold ball earrings and crescent pendant; reddish mantle with a mauve tunic with a black clavus edged with gold; vertical fissures.

Image description



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Object reference number: YCA60738

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