- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Wall Painting Fragment with Female Figure
- Work Type
- wall painting fragment(s)
- 1st century CE
- Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
- Roman Imperial period
- Persistent Link
- Physical Descriptions
- Pigment on plaster
- Fresco painting
- actual: 7 x 8 cm (2 3/4 x 3 1/8 in.)
- Fausto Benedetti, Rome (by 1925), gift; to the Fogg Museum of Art, 1925.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Fausto Benedetti
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
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- This fragment depicts the upper torso and head of a nude female figure on a plain red ground. The figure is in 3/4 profile with her torso facing front and her head turned to the right. A purple himation drapes off of her left shoulder and billows behind her back, an indication of her movement through space. Pink and white pigments model her fleshy abdomen, breasts, and face while an earthy ochre constitutes her hair, formed into a low chignon.
- This type of small, floating female can be found in other paintings of the first century CE where such small figures are represented as central vignettes on large fields of flat color (e.g., white, red, black, yellow). The floating figures appear to dance or twirl due to their swirling garments.
In some instances, such female figures carry an instrument or thyrsus and are accompanied by satyrs suggesting their association with Dionysus and identification as maenads (1). Other examples carry specific attributes that identify them as Seasons or other mythological figures (2).
1. For example, a series of maenads in a panel from the Villa of Cicero, Pompeii in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, inv. 9297: F.L. Bastet and M. De Vos, Proposta per una classificazione del terzo stile pompeiano, (Roma) 1979, no. 70.
2. Compare to the figures from the Villa di Arianna at Stabiae, cubiculum W26, specifically the figure of Leda who wears a similar purple garment, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, inv. 9243. See also Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli inv. 8940.
- Exhibition History
Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008
32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/20/2018 - 05/06/2018
- Subjects and Contexts
Roman Domestic Art
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