Wall painting from Room H of the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale

Period: Late Republican

Date: ca. 50–40 B.C.

Culture: Roman

Medium: Fresco

Dimensions: Overall: 70 x 40 1/4in. (177.8 x 102.2cm)

Classification: Miscellaneous-Paintings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1903

Accession Number: 03.14.7


This fresco from the villa at Boscoreale depicts a woman clad in a white chiton and blue cloak, and holding a gold shield in her right hand. The front of the shield shows the image of a standing nude male figure who is adorned with a white headband, the same as those worn by Hellenistic dynasts. This small male figure has been described as a reflected image on the shield, a popular motif in Hellenistic art. However, since there is no image in the fresco cycle that corresponds to a reflection, the figure should be understood as an apparition, which, in antiquity, was viewed as prophetic. The small apparition with a portraitlike head in this particular fresco may refer to a Hellenistic royal heir, and the woman bearing the shield may represent a priestess or prophetess.