Mummy Portrait of a Woman

Object Details


Mummy Portrait of a Woman


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




100 - 110


Encaustic on wood; gilt; linen


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

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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. Also tiny bits of gold leaf were 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.

- 1981

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

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

Chamay, Jacques, Jiri Frel, and Jean-Louis Maier. Le monde des Cesars: Portraits romains. Geneva: 1982 p. 28; fig. 21.

Rothe, Andrea. "Conservation Report on the Mummy Portrait of Isidora," The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 10 (1982), pp. 195-196. with a postscript by Jiri Frel; figs. 1-2.

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

Parlasca, K., J.-E., Berger, and R. Pintaudi. El-Fayyum. Milan: 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, Nv (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. (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; color 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: 1995. II no. 18, 40, 43-44, 63, 66, 158.

Borg, Barbara. Mumienportraets. Chronologie und kultureller Kontext. Mainz: 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," Leonardo's Nephew. Essays on Art and Artists. London: Viking, 1998. p. 27; fig. 8.

Russo, Simona. I gioielli nei papiri di eta greco-romana. Florence: 1999. p. 341; pl. I.

Walker, Susan, ed. Ancient Faces. Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt. Metropolitan Museum of Art, exh. cat., February 15-May 7, 2000. (New York: Routledge, 2000), no. 60.

Dupouy, Chris. Bijoux de Musees a faire soi-meme. Geneva: 2000. p. 25.

Mattera, Joanne. The Art of Encaustic Painting. New York: 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., Paula M. Mikkelsen, et al. Pearls: A Natural History. New York: 2001. p. 66 (photo only).

Munn, Geoffrey. Tiaras: Past and Present. London: 2002. p. 13, fig. 4.

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

Wisseman, Sarah U. The Virtual Mummy. Urbana-Champaign: 2003. p. 24, fig. 10.

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

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

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 Svoboda, Marie. Herakleides : a portrait mummy from Roman Egypt (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2010). p. 15, fig. 3i, p.35, figs. 15-16, p. 78, fig. 45b,

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