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Head of a Roman woman

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek


The portrait has excellent traces of red colour on the hair. Only a few, small traces of red are found on the skin. Egyptian blue has been identified by means of VIL on the garments.

Description of object

The bust is made of white marble. The tip of the nose and a portion of the front part have been broken off. Frederik Poulsen noted in his catalogue from 1951 that the portrait was in excellent condition with traces of red colour on the hair (Poulsen, 1951).

In 1956 the bust was cleaned, the plaster restorations removed and the head given a new plinth. In 1997 an original fragment was re-attached. The fragment was a gift from The Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Nottingham. At the same time a sample of the marble was taken for isotopic analysis.

The woman has a hairstyle with numerous small curls that frame the forehead, and an extensive braid which terminates in a long chignon.

A significant portion of the front part of the bust has been broken off and is missing.

Choice of methods

Visual examination

  • Macroscopic
  • Microscopic in situ

Technical imaging

  • UV
  • VIL

Marble identification method

  • isotopic analysis.

Visual examination

Red is found as a compact, thin layer on the hair and a few traces of red are found on the skin, on the nose and on the right cheek.

Technical imaging

VIL The hair shows spatially the presence of a few luminescent particles while a larger concentration is visible on the garment on the left side of the portrait. The scattered grains shining bright white indicate the use of Egyptian blue.

UV-FL: The portrait reveals no fluorescence phenomena related to the antique polychromy, organic lakes or resins. However, what appear to be traces of a discreet suggestion of the irises are observable, especially in the right eye.


F. Poulsen (1951), Catalogue of Ancient Sculpture in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, cat. no. 643.

F. Johansen (1994) Catalogue. Roman Portraits I. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, cat. no. 83.

  • IN 759
  • Portrait
  • 1st century C.E.
  • Roman Imperial
  • White marble
  • Bought in 1891 from Count Orsini.
  • H. 40 cm.

Selected photos

  • In759_t_0
  • In759_t_90
  • In759_t_180
  • In759_t_270
  • In759_uv_t_0
  • In759_vil_t_0
  • In759_vil_t_90
  • In759_vil_t_180
  • In759_vil_t_270
  • In759_vil_d_90_garment
  • In759_d_90_hair
  • In759_d_90_hair_2