Head of a Woman 
ca. 150 BCE–150 CE
Marble, paint
H. 9 1/8" (23.0 cm) x. W. 6 11/16" (17.0 cm)
V. G. Simkhovitch Collection, 63.105.19


Head of a Woman

The marble head of woman was broken from a life-sized statue and probably represents a goddess. The style is reminiscent of the late classical period (fourth century BCE), but since this style continued to be used in later periods, the head may date later in the Hellenistic or Roman imperial period.  The face depicts the idealized forms and impassive expression that characterize Greek and Roman representations of goddesses (and is found on some portraits of women).  The hair is center-parted and pulled back in loose waves, where it is bound in a bun.  A headband, or fillet, is wrapped around the head.

In spite of its poor condition, this head preserves a significant amount of ancient pigment, providing tantalizing clues about the appearance of painted marble sculpture. A light reddish-brown pigment covers the preserved surface of the face, and dark brown pigment can be seen in the drill channels defining the locks of hair on the left side of the head. It is likely that the red on the face served as an undercoat for additional paint; the dark color in the hair also may have functioned as an undercoat, which would have been modulated by lighter colors applied on top. Although the fillet preserves no traces of pigment, it would probably have been painted a color that contrasted with the hair.

Location: 2nd floor, gallery

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Cite As

"Head of a Woman" (63.105.19). Bloomington: Indiana University Art Museum, 2014.