- Museum number
Portrait of a woman in encaustic on limewood: a large crack splits the panel from top to bottom through the proper right eye, and a shorter crack runs through the left eye. The paint surface is damaged in several places. Traces of the mummy wrappings appear at the upper corners. The background was painted in bluish grey with long brush-strokes.
The figure appears very large in relation to the background and is shown in three-quarter view. She wears a claret-coloured tunic with a very dark crimson clavus edged with gold, visible on the proper right side. A mantle of mauvish tone is draped around the shoulders.
The woman wears gold ball earrings (painted with white highlights) typical of the later first century AD. She wears around her neck a gold chain with pendant crescent with ball-shaped terminals: this too is painted with creamy-white highlights. It is not out of the question that she originally had an ornamental chain across the hair, separating the bun on the crown from the locks in front - a feature of other Neronian portraits. Of this, nothing survives but a greyish ground. The front hair is arranged around the brow in two banks of snail-shaped curls, expanded to four above the ears. Locks fall behind the ears to either side of the neck; the necklace has been painted over the lock on the proper right side.
The eyes (especially the proper left eye) are large and rounded, with arched eyebrows. The nose is rather shorter than the norm; the lips are full and painted rose pink. The creamy flesh is tinted pink on the cheeks and chin, and a creamy-white highlight runs down the nose and above and below the lips.
- Production date
- 55-70 AD
Length: 35.80 centimetres
Width: 20.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, Fayum. 'Misteriosi volti dall'Egitto', London 1997, p. 71 .
'Portraits De l’Egypte Romaine', Paris 1998, pp.140-141 .
W. M. F Petrie, 'Roman Portraits and Memphis' IV (1911) p. 7 ;
W. M. Flinders Petrie, 'The Hawara Portfolio: Paintings of the Roman Age' (1913), pl. 7;
A. F. Shore, 'Portrait Painting from Roman Egypt' 2 ed. (1972) pl. 2;
K. Parlasca, 'Ritratti di Mummie'. In A. Adriani (ed.), 'Repertorio d'arte dell'Egitto greco-romano'. 2 ser. I (1969), 29, no.13 (bibl.), pl. 4;
E. Doxiadis, 'The Mysterious Fayum Portraits. Faces from Ancient Egypt' (1995), p. 200 ;
B. Borg, ‘Mumienporträts. Chronologie und kulterelle Kontext (1996), 31, 91, 106, 126, 169;
E. Doxiadis 1998, 136 no. 6 with pl. p. 22;
M. F. Aubert and R. Cortopassi 'Portraits de l'Égypte Romaine' (1998), 140-1 no. 86;
Parlasca and Seeman 1999, 102 no. 2.
S. Walker, 'Ancient Faces', New York 2000, pp. 39-40 .
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1997 22 Oct-1998 30 Apr, Italy, Rome, Fondaione Memmo, Ancient Faces
2008 25 Oct-2009 22 Mar, London, Royal Academy of Arts, Byzantium 330-1453 AD
2009 24 Sept-2010 17 Jan, Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, Pituura Romana
2011 30 May-24 Jul. Spain,Madrid, Museo Arqueologico Nacional. 'Retratos de le Fayum'. Bussac, Claude.
2013, - 2014 21 Sep - 05 Jan, Bristol Museum + Art Gallery, Roman Empire: Power + People
2014, 25 Jan - 27 Apr, Norwich Castle, Roman Empire + People
2014, 15 May - 31 Aug, Coventry, Herbert Museum, Roman Empire + People
2014 -2015, 20 Sep - 4 Jan, Manchester, Roman Empire + People
2015, 24 Jan - 10 May, Dundee, Roman Empire + People
2015, 30 May - 13 Sep, Tyne & Wear, Roman Empire + People
2015-2016, Oct 29-Feb 7, London, BM, G35, Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs.
- fair - vertical cracks through both eyes
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: National Gallery 2914