About this artwork
Carved by a sculptor of exceptional talent, this exquisite portrait bust depicts an elegant Roman woman of wealth and distinction. The subject bears a solemn expression as she looks to her left, which affords a tantalizing glimpse of her intricate hairstyle. The wavy locks that frame her face are combed to the back, where they are woven into numerous braids, nearly all of which are wound into a heavy, multitiered bun worn at the upper part of the back of the head. This coiffure emulates a type worn by Faustina the Elder (d. AD 141), wife of Emperor Antoninus Pius (r. AD 138–61), suggesting that she lived during this period. A gem-encrusted diadem encircles the subject’s head, alluding to her elevated social standing. Her garments are similarly luxurious, including her crisply pleated, gap-sleeved tunic, which is so thinly carved that light passes through parts of the marble. Out of modesty she also wears an overgarment, its deep folds indicating a thick material, possibly wool. Draped low across her torso, the mantle reveals the gentle swell of her right breast, an unusual feature of Roman busts of this period.
- Ancient Roman
- Portrait Bust of a Woman
- 140 CE–150 CE
- 64.8 × 47.6 × 27.3 cm (25 1/2 × 18 3/4 × 10 3/4 in.)
- Purchased with funds provided by The Antiquarian Society in honor of Ian Wardropper, the Classical Art Society, Mr. and Mrs. Isak V. Gerson, James and Bonnie Pritchard, and Mrs. Hugo Sonnenschein; Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Bro Fund; Katherine K. Adler, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Alexander in honor of Ian Wardropper, David Earle III, William A. and Renda H. Lederer Family, Chester D. Tripp, and Jane B. Tripp endowments