Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Artist Unidentified (Ptolemaic or Roman Egyptian)


Mummy Portrait of a Lady

Creation Date

ca. 100-150


early 2nd century


11 1/2 in. x 9 1/4 in. x 10 1/2 in. (29.21 cm x 23.5 cm x 26.67 cm)



Creation Place

Ancient Mediterranean, Egypt

Medium and Support

stucco, glass, painted and gilded jewelry with remains of polychrome

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund and the Helen Johnson Chase Fund


Public Domain

Accession Number

This female portrait was originally part of a panel that served as the lid of the sarcophagus. Fashioned from plaster, the details of the face, hair, and clothing were highlighted with paint, glass, and gilding. Though meant to decorate a sarcophagus, this head is not properly a mummy mask. Instead, following a Roman tradition, the portrait was positioned upright on the sarcophagus and could be viewed in the round. When complete, the sarcophagus represented the deceased as reclining on a couch with her head raised up as though supported by a pillow.

Object Description

From the Alsdorf Collection, this 11 1/2 inch polychromed head wears a cloak over her shoulders, two necklaces and hoop earrings. Her austere face is characterized by a dimpled chin, straight nose and large heavy-lidded eyes inset with glass.

Additional Media

Additional Image 215.2004.jpg

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