Portrait Bust of an Aristocratic Woman

280–90 CE
This object has related works. See
Overall: 33.2 x 20 x 14 cm (13 1/16 x 7 7/8 x 5 1/2 in.)
Weight: 6.123 kg (13.5 lbs.)
You can copy, modify, and distribute this work, all without asking permission. Learn more about CMA's Open Access Initiative.

Download, Print and Share


These busts are thought to have been unearthed with the Good Shepherd and Jonah sculptures. The nearly identical facial characteristics of each sitter—three males and three females—suggest that the same man and woman was represented three times. Although the intended function of the busts remains unknown, they probably represent a husband and wife. The portraits have been dated stylistically, as well as by costume and hairstyle, to the AD 270s. One of the men wears a paludamentum, or fringed cloak. One of the women wears a decorative stole, an attribute of rank probably conferred on her by her husband. The most distinctive feature of the female portraits is the hairstyle, a variation of the scheitzelkopf, in which the hair, after being combed behind the ears down to the nape of the neck, is braided, pulled up over the top of the head and folded under at the front. Careful study of the evolution of women's coiffures supports a date of AD 270 to 280 for the portraits, about the same as the symbolic sculptures of Jonah and the Good Shepherd. The rarity of intentionally paired portrait busts in late antiquity, especially those in a series, raises questions as to their original function. The busts may have been commemorative and intended for distribution as diplomatic gifts. It is likely that they were commissioned by a single, important patron or family to enhance their social or political status.
Portrait Bust of an Aristocratic Woman

Portrait Bust of an Aristocratic Woman

280–90 CE

Anatolia, late Roman-early Christian

Visually Similar Artworks

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.