Miniature Portrait Bust of a Woman

Object Details

Title:

Miniature Portrait Bust of a Woman

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Place(s):

Italy (Place created)

Date:

25 B.C. - A.D. 25

Medium:

Bronze; glass-paste

Dimensions:

16.5 x 6.7 cm (6 1/2 x 2 5/8 in.)

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This exceptionally well-preserved bronze portrait bust depicts a young woman. The inlaid eyes made of glass paste are intact, which is rare for ancient bronze statues, but the gold earrings she originally wore have disappeared. She wears her hair in the complicated braided and knotted style popular during the reign of the emperor Augustus. Such detailing in the hair required much engraving and reworking of the head after it was cast.

The Romans had a long tradition of portraiture, since images of ancestors played a part in funerary ritual. Portraits of ancestors were kept and displayed at home; a miniature portrait such as this probably would have stood in a private household shrine. Portraits signaled the social status of both their subjects and those who commissioned them. On certain occasions throughout the year, portraits of ancestors were displayed in public, attesting to the long-standing importance of the family.

Provenance
- 1984

Maria de Juan (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Exhibitions
Beyond Beauty: Antiquities as Evidence (December 16, 1997 to January 17, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to January 17, 1999
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Bibliography

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985) p. 166, no. 9.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986) p. 45.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991) p. 35.

Lahusen, Götz, and Edilberto Formigli. "Der Augustus von Meroe und die Augen der römischen Bronzebildnisse," Archaeologischer Anzeiger (1993) pp. 655-674. p. 655; fig. 29.

Borromeo, G. E. Roman Small-scale Portrait Busts. 1993. pp. 185 f., 271, f., no. 72.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 35.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 102.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001) p. 35.

Dahmen, Karsten. Untersuchungen zu Form und Funktion kleinformatiger Porträts der römischen Kaiserzeit. Münster : Scriptorium, 2001. p. 186, no. 158; pl. 158.

Lahusen, Götz, and Edilberto Formigli. Römische Bildnisse aus Bronze: Kunst und Technik. Munich: Hirmer, 2001. no. 44, pp. 95-97, 462, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002) p. 176.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007) p. 15, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010) p. 177.

Di Mauro, Alberto. Italy Art LA, educational brochure (Los Angeles: Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, 2012) p. 24.

Szczepanowska, Hanna M. Conservation of Cultural Heritage: Key Principles and Approaches (London and New York: Routledge, 2013) p. 212, pl. 8.8.

Mattusch, Carol C. Enduring Bronze: Ancient Art, Modern Views (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2014) p. 43, fig. 21.

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