Julia Titi was the daughter of the Roman emperor Titus, who ruled during the Flavian dynasty from A.D. 79 to 81. Recorded in history as a wild young woman who was her uncle Domitian's mistress, Julia died in A.D. 91 at the age of thirty.
This portrait depicts Julia with a dramatic, curling hairstyle. A diadem originally inlaid with materials such as gold, silver, or gems marked her imperial status. Julia would have worn earrings, probably made of gold, which are now missing; the small holes at either side of her neck indicate the original presence of a now-missing necklace. Traces of paint preserved in Julia's curls show that her hair was originally a reddish color. The deeply drilled curls and chiaroscuro effect are typical of Roman sculpture in this period.
Portraits of the women in the imperial family set fashions for the entire Roman Empire. A hairstyle worn by an empress or princess would soon appear on portraits of ladies of the imperial court and then spread out through the rest of Roman society as a sign of taste and status. Elaborate curled hairstyles reminiscent of that worn by Julia became the mark of fashionable women in the Flavian period.