Mummy Portrait of a Man

Image courtesy of the Chicago Art Institute

This mummy portrait was found in Fayum, Egypt (as were many others), and dates back to the second century A.D. It belongs to the collection of the Chicago Art Institute but isn’t currently on display.

Mummy portraits start showing up in Egypt by the Roman period. It’s a trend that lasts about 200 years. These portraits, as you may have already guessed, were included in the mummy of people. Studies were done to evaluate how realistic they were, using techniques of facial surgery, and it turns out that these portraits are generally quite accurate in their depictions.

Usually, these portraits were painted on wooden boards using pigments, wax, and gold leaf. Some of them can be dated by the hairstyles of fashion and jewelry represented on them (because typology is awesome like that).

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