Art

Mummy Portrait of a Bearded Man


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Mummy Portrait of a Bearded Man, c. 250 CE
Painting
Egyptian
,
3rd century CE
Roman Imperial period, Late
Creation Place: Fayum (Egypt)
Encaustic on linden wood
46 cm h x 20.2 cm w x 2 cm d (18 1/8 x 7 15/16 x 13/16 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Dr. Denman W. Ross
, 1923.59
Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art & Numismatics
,
Commentary
Re-View Exhibition, Spring 2008, gallery label information:

These wooden panels were set into mummy wrappings, covering the face of the deceased. Their vibrant encaustic (wax-based) painting was well preserved by the dry Egyptian climate. Such mummy portraits, often called Fayum Portraits after the
region where many were found, reflect the fusion of Egyptian funerary practices, Greek painting techniques, and Roman portrait traditions. Leaving an anchor for the soul on earth by placing a substitute representation of the deceased within
the tomb was a long-standing practice in Egypt. The image did not necessarily bear a physical resemblance but showed the deceased as virtuous. The man's hair and beard are trimmed short, as on the marble head of a bearded man (1949.47.138) in the center of the gallery. The shape of the woman's portrait reveals that it comes from Antinoopolis, a city founded by the emperor Hadrian.
Provenance
Denman Waldo Ross, Cambridge, MA, (by 1923), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1923.
Exhibition History
Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008
Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008
Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011
Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013
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