Incorrect Username, Email, or Password

Bust portrait of a woman in a white garment.

In this bust portrait, a middle-aged woman is rendered in a linear manner on a gray-green background. Her dark brown hair is pulled away from her face, and she has heavy eyebrows, round brown eyes, a long nose, and red lips. Modeling is rendered through mostly hatched lines, although there are distinct wrinkles on her forehead and neck. For costuming, she wears a white garment with a vertical red border stripe over her proper left shoulder, and has on gold hooped earrings with three pearls in each.

Gallery Text

Women in mummy portraits usually wear colorful clothing, and it may be that the white garment refers to the professional orientation of the deceased as a scribe. The band over this woman’s shoulder originates in the broad purple stripe (clavus) worn by Roman senators, but is more a sign of cultural allegiance to Rome than a mark of office here.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Portrait of a woman
Work Type
Second half second century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Fayum (Egypt)
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Binder: Animal glue Pigments: Bassanite, anhydrite, alunite, red and yellow ochres, bone black, carbon black, madder lake, red lead Support: Native Egyptian sycomore fig (Ficus sycomorus)
32 × 19 × 0.5 cm (12 5/8 × 7 1/2 × 3/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Theodor Graf Collection, Vienna. [Sotheby's, London, 27 July 1931, cat. no. 22], sold; to [Brummer Gallery, New York, 1931-1932], sold; to Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr, New York, (1932-1939), gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1939.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • Sotheby's London: Catalogue of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, South American, Arabian, and Indian Antiquities, auct. cat., Sotheby's (London, England, July 27, 1931), no. 22, 1.
  • Dr. Heinrich Drerup, Die Datierung der Mumienportrats, Schoningh (Paderborn, 1933), 44, and 62, pl 17a
  • "Pagan and Christian Egypt: Egyptian Art from the First to the Tenth Century A.D." (1941), Brooklyn Museum, p. 16, no. 5, ill.
  • Walters Art Gallery, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, exh. cat., The Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, MD, 1947), no. 674, pl. 87.
  • George M. A. Hanfmann, Roman Art: A Modern Survey of the Art of Imperial Rome, New York Graphi Society (Greenwich CT, New York and London, 1964), pg 312, pl. 49
  • Klaus Parlasca, Mumienportrats und verwandte Denkmaler, Franz Steiner Verlag (Wiesbaden, Germany, 1966), pg 270
  • David Thompson, Mummy Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu, CA, 1982), p. 21
  • Rosario Pintaudi, El-Fayyum, F.M. Ricci (Milan, Italy, 1985), p. 147.
  • Ioli Kalavrezou, Byzantine Women and Their World, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 242/fig. 134
  • [Reproduction Only], Persephone, (Fall 2006)., p. 40.

Exhibition History

  • Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 04/24/1947 - 07/01/1947
  • Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008
  • Byzantine Women and Their World, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/25/2002 - 04/28/2003
  • Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008
  • HAA 1 Survey Course (S421): Landmarks of World Art and Architecture [Spring 2009], Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/12/2009 - 05/10/2009
  • 32Q: 3740 Egyptian, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 06/01/2022
  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/28/2023 - 05/07/2023; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/20/2024 - 05/05/2024
  • Funerary Portraits from Roman Egypt: Facing Forward, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/27/2022 - 12/30/2022
  • Seeing in Art and Medicine, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/02/2023 - 12/30/2023

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

Related Works

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at