About this artwork
This elegant portrait is the intentional likeness of a young woman in her early twenties who had a delicate brow, high cheekbones, wide-set eyes, a bow-shaped mouth, and a prominent chin. Her long tresses are arranged in an elaborate hairstyle, fashionable at different times during the imperial period, in which the hair was parted in the center, combed in waves over the forehead, and plaited into braids that were artfully wrapped around the head like a turban.
Carved of extremely fine marble by a gifted artist, this portrait head presents an elegant, aristocratic young woman. Broken off at the neck, it was once part of a larger statue. The woman’s hair is fashionably arranged. Parted at center and combed in waves over her forehead, the hair is then braided, wrapping around her head like a crown, or diadem. This elaborate hairstyle is in fact reminiscent of those worn by Roman empresses in the second century.
The name of the sitter for this portrait is not known, but her hairstyle was fashionable among women during the reign of Emperor Hadrian ( r. 117-38). Another characteristic feature of the time is the way the matte surface of the subject’s hair, which was probably painted, contrasts with the high polish of her skin, which was left in the natural creamy color of the stone.
- Ancient Roman
- Portrait Head of a Young Woman
- Roman Empire
- 130 AD–140 AD
- 22 × 18 × 20.6 cm (8 7/8 × 7 × 8 in.)
- Edward E. Ayer Endowment in memory of Charles L. Hutchinson