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Mummy Portrait

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late 2nd century A.D.Egyptwood with encausticH 36 cm; B 11,5 cm

In Egypt, the deceased of the upper class were mummified to preserve the body for the soul’s return and the subsequent transition into the underworld. The expressive and realistic mummy portraits were influenced by Roman portraiture painting; there aren’t any parallels in Egyptian art. They originate from a cult of the dead which was unfamiliar to the Egyptians - in Egypt the mummy of the deceased was kept in the house for a longer period of time, where it continued to partake in family life. Only once the period of mourning had passed, the mummy is buried. The portrait fulfilled the role of a death mask. Thanks to the Egyptian climate, these portraits survived as some of the very few examples of Antique panel painting. This is a portrait of a wealthy Egyptian lady with an elaborate, modern hairdo, rich jewellery and expensive garments.