Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
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
Level 3, Room 3600, University Research Gallery
View this object's location on our interactive map
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.)
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

Funerary Portraits from Roman Egypt: Facing Forward, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/27/2022 - 12/30/2022

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

Related Works

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