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Head of a Young Woman
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Head of a Young Woman

Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description This portrait of a young woman illustrates the complex entanglement between Roman and Egyptian cultures. The realism of the young woman is typical of Roman portraiture of the late Republican period, but her facial features and elaborate hairstyle also resemble the sculpture of Ptolemaic Egypt. Her cheeks are round, while her nose is rather narrow. Her neck is marked with Venus-rings, a marker of beauty. Her so-called “melon” arrangement of her hair—the division of her locks into sections, twisted and pulled back so to resemble the ribs of a melon—was a traditional Greek style. The rest of her hair is gathered into tight curls with a few loose tendrils at the nape of the neck, temples, and forehead. The rough finish of the back suggests that she formed part of a group composition of family members decorating a tomb. Necropoleis and catacombs provide the most evidence for private portraiture in Egypt during this period, and like this young woman, such portraits commonly bear traces of both Egyptian and Graeco-Roman styles and motifs.
Date Description Narrative
12/31/1969Technical Reportx-ray diffraction; other
6/14/1991Treatmentexamined for technical study; cleaned; loss compensation
8/08/1996Examinationexamined for condition
Provenance Dikran Kelekian, Paris and New York, [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1913, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1913

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1st century BCE (Ptolemaic or Roman Republican)
Accession Number
12 5/16 x 8 5/8 x 8 11/16 in. (31.3 x 21.9 x 22 cm); mount: 5 7/8 x 6 5/8 x 6 5/8 in. (14.9 x 16.9 x 16.8 cm)
  • Egypt (Place of Origin)


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