Portrait head of an eastern Mediterranean lady
Late Hellenistic to Early Imperial Period
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 133.
Height: 30 cm (11 13/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Limestone-like hard marble, from Asia Minor (?)
Not On View
She is aging but has been presented in an idealized fashion. She wears her cloak over her head as a veil and a necklace; the bland portrait could have been broken from a statue or a funerary bust. This is an eastern imperial, probably Anatolian to Syrian, portrayal. The stiffness of head and neck, the sense of frontality, and the slightly upturned eyes speak of that aspect of Greek imperial civic and private portraiture out of which developed the art of Palmyra and, ultimately, the visual humanism of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine world.
Nose, chin, neck, and edge of the veil have been damaged. The stone is a yellow-brown, the color of old ivory.
By date unknown: Paul E. Manheim Collection (said to be from Asia Minor or northwest Syria); gift of Paul E. Manheim to MFA, December 11, 1968
Gift of Paul E. Manheim