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Mummy Portrait of a Woman
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Attributed to the Isidora Master
Romano-Egyptian, Egypt, about A.D. 100 - 110
Linen, pigment, and gold; encaustic on wood
18 7/8 x 14 3/16 x 5 1/16 in.
81.AP.42

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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.