Mummy Portrait of a Woman

Object Details

Title:

Mummy Portrait of a Woman

Artist/Maker:

Attributed to the Isidora Master (Romano-Egyptian, active 100 - 125)

Culture:

Romano-Egyptian

Place:

Egypt, Africa (Place created)

Date:

100 A.D.

Medium:

Encaustic on linden wood; gilt; linen

Dimensions:

48 × 36 × 12.8 cm (18 7/8 × 14 3/16 × 5 1/16 in.)

See more

See less

A mature woman gazes out from this Romano-Egyptian mummy portrait. The name of the woman, Isidora, is written on what remains of the cartonnage, or linen mummy case. She wears an elegant, braided hairstyle that was fashionable in the early 100s A.D., and she is fully accessorized with a gold hairpin, gold-and-pearl earrings, and three necklaces heavy with gold and jewels. At the time of her burial, the wreath in her hair and the diamond pattern around the edge of the portrait were added in gold leaf. Tiny bits of gold leaf were also added to her necklaces and earrings, which were originally rendered only in yellow paint.

Although little of the mummy case is preserved, it belonged to a small group of mummies wrapped in characteristic reddish-colored shrouds. In Egyptian religion, red is associated with life and regeneration.

Art + Ideas podcast: David Brafman on Alchemy

Provenance
- 1981

Archeart Invest S.A. (Fribourg, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1981.

Exhibitions
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
Art of Alchemy (October 11, 2016 to February 12, 2017)
  • The Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles), October 11, 2016 to February 12, 2017
Bibliography

Chamay, Jacques, Jiřì Frel, and Jean-Louis Maier. Le monde des Césars: Portraits romains (Geneva: Musée d'art et d'histoire de Genève 1982), p. 28; fig. 21.

Rothe, Andrea. "Conservation Report on the Mummy Portrait of Isidora." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 10 (1982), pp. 195-96, with a postscript by Jiří Frel; figs. 1-2.

Thompson, David L. Mummy Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1982), pp. 32-33, 64, no. 1, ill. (also on cover).

Parlasca, K., J.-E. Berger, and R. Pintaudi. El-Fayyum (Milan: Ricci, 1985), p. 78, ill. p. 79.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), pp. 54-55.

Fernandez, I. G. "J. Paul Getty Museum." Revista de Arqueologia 115 (1990), pp. 48-56; p. 55, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 63.

Carr, Dawson W., and Mark Leonard. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, with British Museum Press, 1992), p. 27, ill.

Caroselli, Susan L. Italian Panel Painting of the Early Renaissance in the Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1994), p. 10; fig. 1.

Doxiadis, Euphrosyne. The Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995), pp. 164, 218, no. 10; ill. p. 165.

Corcoran, Lorelei. Portrait Mummies from Roman Egypt (I-IV Centuries A.D.); with a Catalogue of Portrait Mummies in Egyptian Museums (Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1995), II no. 18, 40, 43-44, 63, 66, 158.

Borg, Barbara. Mumienporträts: Chronologie und kultureller Kontext (Mainz: Ph. von Zabern, 1996), pp. 45, 88, 121, 129, 149, 152, 170-72, 210 no. 11.

Fenton, James. "The Mummy's Secret." The New York Review of Books (July 17, 1997), pp. 57-62, p. 59; ill. p. 57 cited without inv. no.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 59.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 116.

Walker, Susan, Morris Bierbrier, et al. Fayum. Misteriosi Volti dall'Egitto, exh. cat. (Rome: Fondazione Memmo, October 22, 1997-February 28, 1998), p. 138, no. 102.

Fenton, James. "The Mummy's Secret." In Leonardo's Nephew: Essays on Art and Artists (London: Viking, 1998), p. 27; fig. 8.

Russo, Simona. I gioielli nei papiri di età greco-romana (Florence: Istituto papirologico G. Vitelli, 1999), p. 341; pl. I.

Walker, Susan, ed. Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt, exh. cat. (New York: Routledge, 2000), no. 60.

Dupouy, Chris. Bijoux de musées à faire soi-même (Geneva: Minerva, 2000), p. 25.

Mattera, Joanne. The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2001), p. 15; ill. p. 14.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 59.

Landman, Neil H., et al. Pearls: A Natural History (New York: H. N. Abrams, 2001), p. 66 (photo only).

Munn, Geoffrey. Tiaras: Past and Present (London: Harry N. Abrams, 2002), p. 13, fig. 4.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 221.

Wisseman, Sarah U. The Virtual Mummy (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois, 2003), p. 24, fig. 10.

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), pp. 47-8, no. 711, pl. 162,2.

Spivey, Nigel and Squire, Michael. Panorama of the Classical World (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2004), pp. 22-23, fig. 26.

Pointer, Sally. The Artifice of Beauty: A History and Practical Guide to Perfumes and Cosmetics (United Kingdom: Sutton Publishing, 2005), p. xvii.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 52, ill.

Daehner, Jens, ed. The Herculaneum Women: History, Context, Identities (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), fig. 3.3.

Doherty, Tiarna, and Anne T. Woollett. Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009), p. 30, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 227.

Corcoran, Lorelei H., and Marie Svoboda. Herakleides: A Portrait Mummy from Roman Egypt (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 15, fig. 3i; p.35, figs. 15-16; p. 78, fig. 45b.

Causey, Faya. Amber and the Ancient World (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), pp. 16, fig. 3.

Related Media
  • /
    Audio: Mummy Portrait of Isidora, feat. Marie Svoboda