This fragment can be recognized from other intact examples as part of a sarcophagus on which the portrait bust of the deceased is displayed in a central tondo. The hand and arm of a figure, probably a Cupid, is preserved to the right of the tondo. The person commemorated here was an elderly woman; she wears her hair in a style favored by members of the Severan dynasty, in particular Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus, and Plautilla, wife of Caracalla. Although sarcophagi were mass-produced, the distinctive features of the woman's portrait make it clear that this particular sarcophagus must have been purchased and then prepared for a specific customer.
Alexander, Christine. 1930–1931. "Unpublished Fragments of Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum Studies, 3: p. 40, fig. 4.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1941. Roman Portraits, Vol. 2. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1948. Roman Portraits, 2nd edn. no. 91, p. v, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
McCann, Anna Marguerite. 1978. Roman Sarcophagi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 20, pp. 122-23, 1, fig. 156, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Kleiner, Diana and Susan B. Matheson. 1996. I Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome p. 209, fig. 165, New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery.