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Portrait of a Young Woman
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Unknown
Roman, A.D. 120 - 130
Marble
45 in.
72.AA.94

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This fragmentary full-length Roman portrait statue depicts a woman wrapped in a mantle. Her smooth, delicate facial features suggest a young woman, or at least a woman carved in an ageless, Classicizing style. Her distinctive hairstyle allows scholars to date this statue to the period from about A.D. 120 to 130. Women throughout the Empire adopted this style with the hair pulled back from the face and the long hair wrapped in braids around the back of the head in imitation of the women of the Imperial family.

The woman's somewhat individualized features are added onto a standard body type. In fact, the head was made separately from a finer grained marble and inserted into the carved body. Scholars refer to this body type as a "Small Herculaneum Woman," named after a statue found in Herculaneum. This Small Herculaneum Woman type and the so-called Large Herculaneum Woman type, became popular vehicles for portraits in the first two centuries A.D., particularly during the Antonine dynasty (A.D. 138-193), and are probably the most numerous surviving ancient statue types for women. They were especially popular for statues honoring women of local elite families in the eastern areas of the Roman Empire.