Mummy with Cartonnage and Portrait

Object Details


Mummy with Cartonnage and Portrait






Egypt (Place created)


A.D. 120–140


Tempera and gilding on a wooden panel; linen and animal glue

Object Number:



175.3 × 44 × 33 cm (69 × 17 5/16 × 13 in.)

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This Romano-Egyptian mummy combines the millennia-old Egyptian tradition of mummification of the dead with the Roman tradition of individualized portraiture. The blending of these two traditions was characteristic of the ethnically and culturally diverse population of the Roman province of Egypt.

The painted mummy portrait depicts a young man with a light mustache and loose, curly hair. His name, Herakleides, has been written on the outer edge of his feet, which are painted at the bottom of the cartonnage, or mummy wrappings. Some areas of the portrait--such as the background, the wreath, and the decorative squares surrounding the panel--have been enhanced with gilding, added after it was bound in the linen wrappings. Belonging to a small group of mummies wrapped in shrouds painted red (a color associated with life and regeneration in Egyptian religion), this one has mythological scenes connected with Egyptian funerary ritual along the length of his body. One depicts an ibis; modern CT (computed axial tomography) scans have revealed a mummified ibis inside the wrappings, suggesting that Herakleides may have been associated with the Egyptian god Thoth, possibly a priest, scribe or worshipper.


Private Collection, by exchange to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991.


"Acquisitions/1991." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 20 (1992), p. 147, no. 28.

Doxiadis, Euphrosyne. The Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995), p. 158, ill. no. 101; comments pp. 98, 218.

Parlasca, Klaus and Hans G. Frenz.. Ritratti di Mummie. Repertorio d'arte dell'Egitto greco-romano (A. Adriani, ed). 2 ser. Vol. IV. (Roma : "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 2003), p. 50, no. 719, pl. 164,1.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 53, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 226.

Corcoran, Lorelei H., and Marie Svoboda. Herakleides: A Portrait Mummy from Roman Egypt (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010).

Bowers, Michael C. Forensic Dental Evidence (Waltham, MA: Academic Press, 2011), p. 3, fig. 1.1.

Green, Christopher, and Jens M. Daehner. Modern Antiquity: Picasso, de Chirico, Leger, and Picabia (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), p. 49, n. 14.

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    Audio: Mummy with Cartonnage and Portrait, feat. Marie Svoboda