Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Marble head of an elderly woman

Late Republic or Early Augustan
ca. 40–20 B.C.
10 1/4 x 6 1/2 x 7 3/4 in. (26 x 16.5 x 19.7 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Philodoroi Gifts, 2000
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 166
This portrait of an elderly Roman matron conveys an air of gravitas and dignity that befits the social standing of the subject. Like most portraits of Roman women, this one can be dated closely by the hairstyle, which combines a braided bun worn high on the head and the so-called nodus, a flat braid pulled back over the top of the head.
In antiquity, all marble sculpture was painted. Here, the indication of eyelashes can still be seen on the upper lid of the right eye, and traces of pigment remain on the same eye and on the hair.
From ca. 1980s, private collection, Germany; [by 2000, with Ward & Company, New York]; acquired in 2000, purchased from Ward & Company.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2000. "One Hundred Thirtieth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2000." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 130: p. 18.

Lightfoot, Christopher S. and Dr. Seán Hemingway. 2001. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2000-2001." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 59(2): p. 12.

Roth, Kendra E. 2002. "The Visual Examination of a Roman Portrait Head." Met Objectives: Treatment and Research Notes, 4(1): pp. 9–10, figs. 14–17.

LaGamma, Alisa. 2011. Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures. pp. 11, 13, fig. 9, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Zanker, Paul. 2016. Roman Portraits: Sculptures in Stone and Bronze in the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 69, pp. 190, 194–95, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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