Back to overview

Head of a Roman woman

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek


The results of the technical examination suggest the portrait was fully painted. Small traces of red, yellow ochre and Egyptian blue are found on the skin and in the hair.

Description of object

The tip of the nose has broken off and is missing. The upper lip is bruised. A large piece of the back of the head is missing and there is damage to the rim of the bust.

Archaeological Commentary

The face has features typical of the Republican era, but the hairstyle is Tiberian.

Choice of methods

Visual examination

  • Macroscopic
  • Microscopic in situ

Technical imaging

  • UV
  • VIL


  • XRF

Visual examination

Small traces of original paint are found all over the portrait. Scattered particles are most common and cohesive paint layers rarely occur. The largest concentration of paint is found in the hair where red is combined with a few blue grains. The eyes of the portrait and the area around the eyes have scattered particles of red and small traces of blue while the rims of the eyelids show traces of an almost transparent pink and a few traces of yellow.

No traces of paint is found in the inscription on the herm.

Technical imaging

UV-FL: A bright, strong, yellowish fluorescense is seen in the area around the nose due to the presence of gypsum. What appears to be traces of biological growth are observed in the area around the eyes and are most conspicuous in the area of the right iris.

VIL: On the hair, particles shine bright white especially on the ponytail and the back of the head. A few small particles are observed in the eyes and on the skin in the area around the eyes. The characteristic glow of the particles confirms the use of Egyptian blue on the portrait.

Other types of investigation

XRF: analysis preformed in situ on the compact layer of red/orange found in the hair showes a high content of iron (Fe) suggesting the use of hematite or red ochre. The red colour observed on the skin above the right eyebrow also showes a signal on Fe due to red ochre.


F. Johansen (1994): Roman Portraits I. Catalogue Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 188-189, 82.

  • IN 761
  • Bust
  • 1st century CE
  • Roman Imperial
  • Marble
  • Acquired in 1891 from Count Orsini, through the mediation of Helbig
  • H. 31 cm.

Selected photos

  • In761_t_0
  • In761_t_90
  • In761_t_180
  • In761_t_270
  • In761_d_eyes
  • In761_d_red_hair_x26
  • In761_d_red_above_eyebrow
  • In761_uv_t_0
  • In761_vil_t_0
  • In761_vil_t_90
  • In761_vil_t_180
  • In761_vil_t_270
  • In761_vil_d_eyes
  • In761_map_t_0
  • In761_map_t_90