The J. Paul Getty Museum

Hairnet

Object Details

Title:

Hairnet

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Greek

Place:

Egypt (Place Created)

Date:

225–175 B.C.

Medium:

Gold, garnet, and glass paste

Object Number:

92.AM.8.1

Dimensions:

21.6 × 7.9 × 7.6 cm, 127.3 g (8 1/2 × 3 1/8 × 3 in., 0.2806 lb.)

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Object Description

This elaborate gold hairnet is one of the few surviving from antiquity (the contemporary “Schimmel” hairnet in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, inv. no. 1987.220, is another) and is an example of the extraordinary level of achievement that was possible for goldsmiths in the 3rd century BC. It is considered to have been made in the same goldsmith’s workshop, probably in Alexandria, Egypt, as the Diadem. The hairnet consists of four elements: the central medallion, the tassels and chains, the net, and the circular clasp. Made to enclose a gathered bun of hair at the back of the head, the fabrication of the hairnet is remarkable for the quality of its execution. The medallion consists of a central repoussé bust of Aphrodite with Eros clinging to the drapery on her left shoulder. The Ptolemaic queens often presented themselves as descendants of Aphrodite; here, the goddess’s features and hairstyle are similar to those of Queen Arsinoe II (ca. 316 – ca. 270 BC). Two concentric bands of filigree separated by rows of beads surround the center. The innermost band consists of a running pattern of framed acanthus leaves (identical to the inner frieze on the Schimmel hairnet noted above); the outer band is filigreed with a step pattern perhaps once inlaid with enamel, now lost. Running filigree as used here, constructed from lengths of wire rather than short pieces connected together, can also be seen on the Diadem and indicates the work of a master gold-smith. Garnet and gold beaded tassels dangle from the medallion and clasp. The net is comprised of bands of gold spool beads linked by tiny filigreed chains, their intersecting points articulated with tiny masks of Dionysos and actors. The circular clasp is embellished with a large Herakles knot, floral tendrils, ivy leaves, and berries.

The association of Arsinoe II with Aphrodite on the hairnet finds parallels on other items in the Assemblage of Ptolemaic Gold Jewelry, such as the identification of Tyche/Fortuna with Arsinoe II on the carnelian ring. Commonalities between the materials and the workmanship of many objects in this group indicate they were made by Greek goldsmiths working in more than one workshop in Alexandria, Egypt, and were created to be worn as an ensemble. While a royal context can be ascribed to the group, the association cannot be extended to the royals themselves. It therefore seems possible that the original owner was an elite of the exclusive circle of dynastic princesses, who, ornamented in her golden finery, served the queen in one of the royal cults devoted to her worship.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1990

Robin Symes (London, England), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1990.

1990 - 1992

Barbara Fleischman and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997 (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1992.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman (October 13, 1994 to April 23, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 13, 1994 to January 15, 1995
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), February 14 to April 23, 1995
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
Pergamon and the Art of the Hellenistic Kingdoms (April 11 to July 17, 2016)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), April 11 to July 17, 2016
Bibliography
Bibliography

"La Chronique des Arts: Principales Acquisitions des Musée en 1992." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 121, ser. 6 (March 1993), p. 39, cat. no. 190.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 56-57.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 58, 64.

Pfrommer, Michael. Alexandria: Im Schatten der Pyramiden (Mainz: P. von Zabern, 1999), figs. 174a-c.

Pfrommer, Michael. "Hellenistisches Gold und ptolemaeische Herrscher." In Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum 2. Occasional Papers on Antiquities 10 (2001), pp. 79-114, figs. 15a-g.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 56-57.

Pfrommer, Michael, with E. Towne Markus. Greek Gold from Hellenistic Egypt. Getty Museum Studies on Art (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001).

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), pp. 92-93.

Pfrommer, Michael. Könignnen Vom Nil (Mainz am Rhein: von Zabern, 2002), p. 108, abb. 93-94.

Spivey, Nigel and Squire, Michael. Panorama of the Classical World (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2004), pp. 24-25, fig. 30.

Sacks, David. Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World (New York: Facts on File, 2005), p. 138, ill.

Jackson, Monica M. Hellenistic Gold Eros Jewellery: Technique, Style and Chronology (Oxford: Archaeopress/BAR International Series, 2006), p. 126.

Lapatin, Kenneth. Luxus: The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), pp. 75, 232, pl. 40.

Picon, Carlos, and Sean Hemmingway, eds. Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016), pp. 225-226, no. 159a, ill., entry by Mary Louise Hart.