- Museum number
Portrait of a woman in encaustic on fir, with added gilding: the panel is cracked vertically to the right of the centre through to the subject's brow. Much of the surface is lost or altered through melting of the original wax. A thick coat of paraffin wax has been applied.
The panel is not cut down at the upper corners. The background to the portrait, in lead white, appears as a rectangle within black borders. The subject is shown in frontal pose, dressed in a pinkish-red tunic with orange-gold clavi. She wears no mantle. Madder mixed with a little Egyptian blue was used for the robe; the clavi were painted with Egyptian blue and ochre. The jewellery is added in gold leaf: trident earrings with pendant pearls painted in white; a necklace composed of long gold strips set vertically, and a herringbone chain with a pendant stone (perhaps a garnet or amethyst) in a gold setting. In the hair is a triple gold wreath of lozenges and triangles, some detached from their original setting, and a central circular element.
The proper left eye is large and almond-shaped with a squarish brown pupil. The eyebrows are arched. The proper right eye and much of the nose are severely damaged. The thin dark red lips are covered in gold leaf.
A central parting is clearly visible in the hair, which appears to be cut close to the head.
- Production date
Height: 32.10 centimetres
Thickness: 1.50 centimetres
Width: 22.70 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Though some considered the portrait to resemble those from Antinoopolis and therefore dated it to the Hadrianic period, the frontality of the portrait (despite a slight turn of the face), the lack of mantle, the form of the jewellery and the central parting suggest a date in the late Antonine or Severan period.
W. M. Flinders Petrie, 'Roman Portraits and Memphis' IV (1911), 10, pl. 5;
K. Parlasca, 'Ritratti di Mummie'. In A. Adriani (ed.), 'Repertorio d'arte dell'Egitto greco-romano'. 2 ser. I (1969), 67, no. 145 (bibl.), pl. 34.6;
B. Borg, ‘Mumienporträts. Chronologie und kulterelle Kontext (1996), 58f;
Parlasca and Seeman 1999, 136 no. 38.
S. Walker, 'Ancient Faces', New York 2000, pp. 64-65 .
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1997 22 Oct-1998 30 Apr, Italy, Rome, Fondaione Memmo, Ancient Faces
2000 Feb-May, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ancient Faces
- Acquisition date
- Egypt and Sudan
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: National Gallery 2915