The J. Paul Getty Museum

Mummy Portrait of a Young Woman

Object Details


Mummy Portrait of a Young Woman






Egypt (Place Created)


about A.D. 170–200


Tempera on wood

Object Number:



34.9 × 21.3 cm (13 3/4 × 8 3/8 in.)

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Object Description

With large expressive eyes, a woman gazes out for eternity from this Romano-Egyptian mummy portrait. Her clothes and jewelry--a gold necklace and pearl drop earrings--indicate her elite status. Her hairstyle, popular in the royal court at Rome during the Antonine dynasty, allows the portrait to be dated to the period from about A.D. 170 to 200.

Often the tempera mummy portraits found in the Fayum were painted in a less naturalistic style than those done in encaustic, but the painter of this portrait carefully created a three-dimensional image. Highlights and shadows give depth to the woman's face. In contrast to the face, however, the woman's clothing is depicted in a summary manner.

Art + Ideas Podcast: Marie Svoboda on Egyptian Mummy Portraits


Theodor Graf, Austrian, Austrian, 1840 - 1903 (Vienna, Austria)


Otto Benesch, 1896 - 1964 (Vienna, Austria)

by 1979 - 1981

Antiken Heinz Herzer (Munich, Germany), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1981.

The Classical Ideal: Athens to Picasso (November 15 to December 14, 1979)
  • David Carritt, Ltd. (London), November 15 to December 14, 1979
Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt (March 13, 1997 to April 30, 1998)
  • The British Museum (London), March 13 to July 20, 1997
  • Palazzo Ruspoli (Rome), October 22, 1997 to April 30, 1998
Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt (February 9 to May 7, 2000)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), February 9 to May 7, 2000

David Carritt, Ltd. The Classical Ideal: Athens to Picasso. (exh. cat.) (London: David Carritt Limited, 1979), p. 10, no. 4, ill., cover ill.

Artemis S.A., Annual report 1978-79 (Luxemburg 1979), p. 13, no. 3.

David Carritt Limited advertisement. Country Life 166 (November 1979), p. 63, ill.

Parlasca, Klaus. Ritratti di Mummie. Repertorio d'arte dell'Egitto greco-romano (A. Adriani, ed). 2 ser. Vol. III. (Roma : "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, 1980), pp. 59-60, no. 643; pl. 152.2.

Thompson, David L. Mummy Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1982), pp. 52-53, 66, no. 9.

Borg, Barbara. Mumienporträts: Chronologie und kultureller Kontext (Mainz: Ph. von Zabern, 1996), pp. 15, 52 f., 87, 164, 169.

Walker, Susan, Morris Bierbrier, et al. Fayum. Misteriosi Volti dall'Egitto, exh. cat. (Rome: Fondazione Memmo, October 22, 1997-February 28, 1998), pp. 128-29, no. 95.

Walker, Susan, ed. Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt, exh. cat. (New York: Routledge, 2000), no. 43.

Corcoran, Lorelei H., and Marie Svoboda. Herakleides: A Portrait Mummy from Roman Egypt (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), 37, fig 18.