Head of a Woman, between 130 and 160 CE

  • Egyptian

Encaustic with gilded stucco on wood panel

  • 22 × 13 3/16 × 2 1/2 inches (55.9 × 33.5 × 6.4 cm) Unframed: 17 5/8 × 9 3/4 inches (44.8 × 24.8 cm)

Gift of Julius H. Haass


Painted on a wooden panel, this mummy portrait was placed over the face of a mummified body and secured to it with linen wrapping. Many mummy portraits were created in a technique called “encaustic,” in which the pigment was mixed with melted wax and applied warm to the wood panel with a small spatula. The use of vivid colors in a wax medium enhances the realistic quality of the portrait.

until 1925, Dirkran Garabed Kelekian [1868-1951] (New York, New York, USA). Julius Heinrich Haass [1856-1931] (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

1925-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Bulletin of the DIA 6, no. 6 (1925): pp. 64-5, (ill.). Rostovtzeff, M. A History of the Ancient World, vol. 2. Rome: Oxford Press, 1927, p. 268, pl. 58 [as 2nd century]. Zaloscer, H. Portraits aus dem Wustensand. Vienna, 1961, pl. 24. Parlasca, K. Munienportrats und Verwandte Denkmaler. Wiesbaden, 1966, p. 259, pl. 31-2. Mummy Portrairs from Roman Egypt. DIA. Detroit, March 22-April 30, 1967, no. 10, pp. 17, 19, (ill.). Peck, W. H. "The Present State of Egyptian Art in Detroit," Connoisseur, vol. 175 (December 1970): pp. 265-73, (col pl.). DIA Handbook. 1971, p. 39, (ill.). Thompson, D. J. "The Classes and Hands of Painted Funerary Portrairs for Antinoopolis." Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1972, pp. 64-69, pl. XI. [Thompson dates the Detroit portrait to 130/35-160 A. D. and assigns it to his painter "C"]. Masterpieces of World Art from American Museums. Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; National Museum, Kyoto. September 11-December 5, 1976, no. 5, (ill.). Thompson, D.J. The Artists of the Mummy Portraits. Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1976, p. 9, (fig. 17). Berger. J-E. L'Oeil et l'Eternite: Portraits Romains d'Egypte. Paudex, 1977, p. 175 (ill.). Peck, W. H. Archeology, vol. 31 (May-June 1978): p. 17, (ill.). Berger, R. Malerinnen auf dem Weg Ins 20. Jahrhundert: Kunstgeschite als Sozialgeschichte. Cologne, DuMont, 1982, p. 287 (ill. no. 50). "Family Art Game," Detroit News/Detroit Free Press (April 18, 1982): p. 13 (ill.). [DIA Advertising Supplement.] Thompson, D.J. Mummy Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Malibu, 1982, p. 9, (fig. 11). 100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. DIA. New York, 1985, p. 38, 39 (ill.). Parlasca, B. and P. El-Fayum. Milan, 1985, p. 103 (ill.). Grant, Michael. Art in the Roman Empire. Routledge, London and New York, 1994, (fig. 30), pp. 96-7. A Visitor's Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. DIA. Detroit, 1995, p. 109. Doxiadis, Euphrosyne. The Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt. London, 1995, p. 212, pl. 84. "DIA Art Game: Art Speaks," The Detroit Free Press (April 26, 1998): p. 8. Borg, Barbara. Der zierlichste Anblick der Welt: A"gyptische Portra"tmumien. Mainz, 1998, Abb 28, p. 25. Bisulca, Christina, Ellen Hanspach-Bernal, Aaron Steele, and Caroline Roberts. "Deconstructing an Ancient Egyptian Mummy Portrait," Bulletin of the DIA 95, no. 1 (2021): pp. 5-19, (ill. fig. 1) p. 5; (fig. 6a) p. 12; (fig. 8-12) pp. 14-17; (ill. inside back cover).

Egyptian, Head of a Woman, between 130 and 160 CE, encaustic with gilded stucco on wood panel. Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Julius H. Haass, 25.2.