Portrait of a woman, from Faiyum

The portrait was found by the archaeologist Albert Gayet during the excavation campaign of 1904 or 1905 at the necropolis of Antinoopolis in Middle Egypt. It entered the Louvre’s collections in 1905.

A fragment of the right side of the board has been reglued. The paint has worn away on the nose, leaving a dark mark where the brown undercoat shows through.

Portrait of a woman, from Faiyum
Portrait of a woman, from Faiyum. Louvre Museum. E 12569

This is an almost full face portrait of a young woman turned slightly to the right, but looking directly at the viewer. Her well defined mouth is accentuated by a shadow under the lower lip; a touch of pink indicates a dimple on her chin. Her hair is parted in the middle, and arranged in parallel waves painted in thick strokes of black.

The woman is wearing a dark purple tunic with a cloak of the same color over her left shoulder. The tunic is adorned with a dark green stripe (or clavus) that starts at her right shoulder. Her earrings reflect the fashion of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD: a pearl, a horizontal gold bar, and two pendants each ending in a pearl. The necklace is composed of long dark green beads interspersed with gold rosettes. The hairstyle could be dated to Hadrian’s reign (117–138 AD) were it not for the fact that the ears are hidden, which suggests a slightly later date.

Roman Period, 2nd century. Sycamore fig wood (Ficus sycomorus L., Moraceae). Height: 37 cm, width: 17 cm, diameter: 1 cm. From Antinoopolis, Middle Egypt. Now in the Louvre. E 12569