Mummy Portrait of a Woman

Romano-Egyptian, Egypt, about 175 - 200 C.E.
Tempera on wood, 11 1/8 x 5 11/16 in.

(From Museum website):
"Excavated at Er-Rubayat in the Fayum, this Romano-Egyptian mummy portrait of a woman is painted in the flat, unrealistic style found on many of the portraits excavated at that site. The tempera technique used for this painting was a faster, easier, and less expensive medium than the encaustic used for portraits from other places. The nature of tempera, however, forced the painter to create a less detailed and natural depiction. Yet even so, this cartoonish rendering conveys the woman's distinctive pursed lips and cleft chin. Her elegantly styled hair, gold earrings, jeweled necklaces, and a hair ornament indicate her elite status.

"The precise purpose of the two holes at the bottom of the panel is not known, but they were probably used to attach some kind of frame, as suggested by the strips of unpainted wood at the top and bottom of the picture."