About this object

Portrait of a woman restored on an ancient bust.
The portrait is about life-size and the turn of the head and eyes is to the right. Jane Fejfer described the hairstyle as a variant of the characteristic Severan ‘helmet’ type, consisting of three basic elements: the broad, loosely twisted strand of hair surrounding the face and covering the ears; behind this there is thinner ribbed strands of hair and a large plaited bun at the back of the head. The face is long and narrow with prominent cheekbones and a small pointed chin. The pupils of the eyes are very distinct: they touch the upper lids and direct the gaze to the right.There is a gentle modelling of flesh in contrast to the sharp treatment of the eyes. The tip of the nose has been restored, along with most of both nostrils, and a patch on the bridge of the nose. The left cheek, mouth, eyebrows and forehead have also suffered impact marks.
The bust may be foreign to the head but it is probably ancient. Its size and the draping of the mantle over the left shoulder with the simple arrangement of the folds, making it difficult to differentiate between mantle and tunic, lead to a dating from the late Antonine- to the early Severan period.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    200 AD about
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    710 mm x 490 mm x 270 mm x 46.5 kg
  • Note
    Jane Fejfer dated the portrait to 200 AD because of similarities to a portrait in the Museo Capitolino, particularly the combination of the soft treatment of the flesh with the hard treatment of the eyes. Blundell interpreted it as portrait of the Empress Didia Clara, the only daughter of Didius Julianus. He may have known of the bust insribed Didia Clare in Florence Galleria degli Uffizi inv 14, no 205. The bust was known from the early 18th century.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Antonio Borrioni ( Previous owner); John Thorpe ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

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Previous owners

  • Antonio Borrioni

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1756
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • John Thorpe

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1777
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Joseph William Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: By descent
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
Object view = Humanities
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