- Museum number
Portrait of a woman in encaustic on limewood: the panel is broken by vertical cracks and strips of paint are lost around them. The flesh surface (originally ivory) has been worked with a spatula. Traces of the mummy wrappings appear as diagonal lines at the upper and lower corners of the panel. The background is grey with a touch of cream.
The woman wears a white tunic, the folds clearly rendered with broad brush-strokes, with dark red clavi. White stitches representing the shoulder seam appear below the proper right shoulder. The mantle is worn over the proper left shoulder and appears as a line above the right shoulder; touches of ochre are used to highlight this and the clavus.
Round the neck is a gold chain with a pendant crescent, matched by gold hoop earrings. This, and the form of the dress, might suggest a date a century earlier than that offered by the hairstyle. The hair is black and curly, cut close to the head in African style, but markedly frizzy around the outer edge in the manner of later second- and third-century coiffures. It is possible that the subject was dressed (and perhaps even buried) in ancestral clothes and jewellery for the occasion of the portrait.
The eyes are brown and almond-shaped, with markedly arched eyebrows fading at the outer edges. The lips are pink, with a slight smile. Cream highlights are used here and on the nose, but this part of the face is particularly damaged.
- Production date
Height: 31 centimetres
Width: 21.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
W. M. F. Petrie, 'The Hawara Portfolio: Paintings of the Roman Age' (1913), pl. 8 (colour);
W. M. F. Petrie, 'Hawara, Biahmu and Arsinoe' (1889), 45;
K. Parlasca, 'Ritratti di Mummie'. In A. Adriani (ed.), 'Repertorio d'arte dell'Egitto greco-romano'. 2 ser. II (1977), 68, no. 400 (bibl.), pl. 99.1;
E. Doxiadis, 'The Mysterious Fayum Portraits. Faces from Ancient Egypt' (1995), 208, no. 79;
B. Borg, ‘Mumienporträts. Chronologie und kulterelle Kontext (1996), 66;
Doxiadis (1998), 140 no. 21 with pl. p. 69;
M. F. Aubert and R. Cortopassi 'Portraits de l'Égypte Romaine' (1998), no, 113, no. 60;
Parlasca and Seeman 1999, 136 no. 37;
S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, 'Fayum. Misteriosi volti dall'Egitto', London 1997, p. 95 ;
'Portraits: De l’Egypte Romaine', Paris 1998, pp.110, 113 ;
S. Walker, 'Ancient Faces', New York 2000, pp. 63-64 .
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1997 22 Oct-1998 30 Apr, Italy, Rome, Fondaione Memmo, Ancient Faces
2006-2015 (Renewable), Glasgow, Kelvingrove, LT Loan
- fair - vertical cracks
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: National Gallery 1260