Portrait of a young man in encaustic on limewood: a vertical fissure runs through the panel from top to bottom, with slighter splits on either side. The painting is otherwise well preserved. The background is creamy grey.
The youth wears a creamy-white tunic and mantle; a narrow mauve clavus appears on the proper right side of the tunic. The mantle is draped over both shoulders. The brush-strokes suggest thick folds of cloth, though the line of the tunic is visible on the proper right shoulder.
The hair is very curly, with strands escaping from the edge of the coiffure. The beard is very short and trimmed square around the chin and cheekbones.
The eyebrows are very long, as are the prominent upper lashes over the slanting brown eyes. The red lips are closed and turn down beneath a narrow moustache. The flesh is painted in warm honey tones with touches of pink and cream highlights on the nose and chin.
- Excavated/Findspot: Hawara
- (Africa,Egypt,Middle Egypt,Faiyum,Hawara)
- Length: 38.3 centimetres
- Width: 22.8 centimetres
The style of the beard may be a sign of early (Flavian-Trajanic) date. The mouth and chin give the painting an unsatisfactory appearance, but this is more likely to represent a facial disability, in 1999 recognised as a hemiatrophy, rather than any inability on the part of the painter, who is in other respects competent.
W. M. F. Petrie, 'Hawara, Biahmu and Arsinoe' (1889), 46;
A. F. Shore, 'Portrait Painting from Roman Egypt' 2 ed. (1972) pl. 9;
K. Parlasca, 'Ritratti di Mummie'. In A. Adriani (ed.), 'Repertorio d'arte dell'Egitto greco-romano'. 2 ser. I (1969), p. 79  (bibl.), pl. 47, 4;
B. Borg, ‘Mumienporträts. Chronologie und kulterelle Kontext (1996), 79, 105;
E. Doxiadis 1998, 140 no. 19 with pl. p. 63;
M. F. Aubert and R. Cortopassi 'Portraits de l'Égypte Romaine' (1998), p. 106  with pl. p. 109;
Parlasca and Seeman 1999, 134-5 no. 36.
S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, 'Fayum. Misteriosi volti dall'Egitto', London 1997, p. 75 .
'Portraits: De l’Egypte Romaine', Paris 1998, pp.106, 109 .
S. Walker, 'Ancient Faces', New York 2000, p. 44 .
1997 15 Oct-1998 30 Apr, Italy, Rome, Fondazione Memmo, Ancient Faces
2006 Sept-2008 Sept, Wallsend, Segedunum Roman Fort & Baths Museum, Egypt Revealed
2009, May-Long term, Newcastle, Great North Museum, Egyptian Gallery
fair - vertical fissure
21 August 1996
Reason for treatment
Clean, fix flakes.
Light surface dirt and some lifting flakes on surface. Fixed to wooden board with animal glue, much excess glue along edges .
Loose dust disturbed with a sable brush and removed with a low suction vacuum cleaner fitted with a flexible rubber tube. Ingrained dirt removed with 0.5% Synperonic N (non ionic detergent, nonylphenol ethylene oxide condensate) in distilled water on cotton wool swabs. This technique was also used to remove the unsightly excess of animal glue. Flaking area stabilised using 20% Vinamul 3252 (vinyl acetate,ethylene copolymer) in distilled water applied with small brush. Removed excess with white paper tissue.
Excavated 1888 by Petrie at Hawara (Petrie u) This portrait was presented to the National Gallery in 1888 by H Martyn Kennard. See information from the NG on file [Nov 2005, NCS]. AES Archive 548.
Ancient Egypt & Sudan
- National Gallery 1264
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Object reference number: YCA60731
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