1478 in. (37.7 cm.) high
with Galerie Uraeus, Paris.
with Charles Ede, London, acquired from the above, 1976.
Acquired by the current owner from the above, 1976.
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Lot Essay

The sitter of this encaustic wood panel is identified as a boy based on the distinctive sidelock of youth below his right ear. This hairstyle was worn by young elite until they were approximately fourteen years old, when it was removed as part of a rite of passage known as the mallokouria. It is possible that the sidelock might further identify its wearer as an acolyte of the cult of Isis. Two ribbons tying the sidelock fall onto his shoulder, and he wears a gold amulet suspended from a cord around his neck; similar amuletic pendants contained spells protecting the wearer. His beautiful visage has almond-shaped eyes with large pupils beneath thick defined brows, a long straight nose and bow-shaped mouth. His short black hair is center parted, with curls tucked behind his ears, heavily accentuated in thick applications of encaustic. He wears a white tunic with purple decorative stripes (clavi) and two intersecting H-shaped motifs. For a similar portrait of an older boy wearing the sidelock of youth, see no. 3892 in the Copenhagen National Museum (no. 60 in E. Doxiadis, The Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt) and another of a younger boy, see Dublin 1902.4, from er-Rubayat (no. 94 in S. Walker and M. Bierbrier., eds., Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt). Scholars have noted the high status of the boys depicted in such portraits, and the gold jewelry and fine tunics they wear reinforces this impression (see B.E. Borg and G.W. Most, “The Face of the Elite,” Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics 8, no. 1, 2000, pp. 63-96).
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Ancient Art from the James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection
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