3 Works, Art and the Egyptian Women - 138-161 AD

Unknown artist
Portrait of a young woman with a gilded wreath, c. A.D. 120–140
Encaustic, wood, gold leaf
 H. 36.5 x W. 17.8 cm (14 3/8 x 7 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The woman's oval face, large eyes, and slightly open lips give the portrait considerable presence. Venus rings on her neck call attention to her youthful plump beauty. The hairstyle is typical for the period of the Emperor Hadrian, except for the corkscrew locks around the forehead, which may be a regional style. More on this work

Unknown artist
 Portrait of a young woman in red, c.  A.D. 90–120
Encaustic, limewood, gold leaf
H. 38.1 x W. 18.4 cm (15 x 7 1/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The background of this portrait was originally gilded, emphasizing the divine status of the deceased young woman. She looks at the viewer with large serious eyes, accentuated by long lashes. A mass of loose curls covers her head, and some strands fall along the back of her neck on the left side. Framed by the black hair, deeply shadowed neck, and dark red tunic, her brightly lit face stands out in appealing youthfulness, an impression that is heightened by the gold wreath and
sparkling jewelry. More on this work

Attributed to the Isidora Master (Romano-Egyptian, active 100 - 125)
Mummy Portrait of a Woman, c. A.D. 100
Encaustic on linden wood; gilt; linen
48 × 36 × 12.8 cm (18 7/8 × 14 3/16 × 5 1/16 in.)
Getty Center

Isidora wears a traditionally hued lavender mantle. Black clavi (woven stripes) with gilded trim extend vertically from the panel onto the linen of the shroud, expanding the portrait over the linen wrappings. In its original condition we would expect Isidora’s red shroud with painted clavi to extend to her ankles and her forearms and hands to be depicted crossing her torso in a manner similar to other female red-shroud mummies. Like these women, Isidora was likely to have been depicted holding a rose-petal wreath in her upraised right hand: the tip of a gold-speckled rose wreath can be seen overlapping her proper left clavus. More on this work

The Isidora Master is the name given to the artist who painted distinctive mummy portraits. He takes his name from the word Isidora written on the side of the cartonnage, which presumably refers to the name of the woman depicted in the portrait. The Isidora Painter worked in Roman Egypt early in the 100s A.D. His painting style is identified by his adept handling of the tiny spatula used to apply the encaustic, or wax paint, and his subtle use of color and highlights. More on The Isidora Master

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