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Ancient Art

Portrait of a youth

2nd century A.D.

Tempera on wood

21 × 5.1 cm (8 1/4 × 2 in.)
Gift of the Associates in Fine Arts 1939
On view
Roman Period

Likely found at er-Rubayat, Egypt. Otto Theodor Graf (1840-1903), Vienna [See Note I]; by descent to Graf’s heirs; sold to Bruno Kertzmar, (Wiener Kunst-Salon), Vienna, 1922. Dr. Neudörfer, Vienna, by 1935; Sale, Mobiliar, schweizerische, italienische und französische Möbel…, Galerie Fischer, Lucerne, Zürich, 7-11 May 1935, lot 2369 [See Note II]. Karl Freund Arts Inc., New York, by November 1938; sold to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., February 1939

Notes: [I] Otto Theodor Graf was one of the most important Egyptian antiquities and textile dealers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The owner of a carpet business in Vienna, with a branch in Cairo, he traveled frequently to Egypt. In 1887 he acquired around 330 late Roman mummy portraits from local agents near el-Rabayat, an ancient town in the Fayum region. While no records of their removal exist, the group has been associated with the site’s necropolis. [II] According to the Fischer sale catalogue, the mummy portraits were from a Private Collection, Vienna. A letter in the curatorial object file from Metropolitan Museum of Art Curator and Egyptologist Ludlow Seguine Bull (1886-1954) to Theodore Sizer (1892-1967), then Director of the Yale Art Gallery, April 15, 1935, advises Sizer of the auction and notes they are “from the collection of one Dr. Neudörfer, Vienna.” The identification of Dr. Neudörfer is at present unknown, but research remains ongoing.


Georg Ebers, The Hellenic Portraits from the Fayum at Present in the Collection of Herr Graf (New York: D. W. Sheldon, 1893).

Hilde Zaloscer, Porträts aus dem Wüstensand (Vienna: A. Schroll, 1961), 64.

Klaus Parlasca, Mumienportrats und Verwandte Denkmaler (Weisbaden, Germany: Steiner, 1966), 270.

William H. Peck, Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt, exh. cat. (Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 1967), 36.

Klaus Parlasca, Ritratti di Mummie. Reportorio d’Arte dell’Egitto Greco-Romano, Serie B, 3 vols. (Palermo, Italy: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 1969).

Jacques-Edouard Berger, L’Oeil et L’Eternitie: portraits romains d’Egypte (Paudex, Switzerland: Editions de Fontainemore, 1977), 216.

Gerry D. Scott, III, Ancient Egyptian Art at Yale, 1st (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 176–77, no. 98B, ill.

Marie-France Aubert and Roberta Cortopassi, eds., Portraits de l’Egypte romaine: Paris, Musee du Louvre, 5 octobre 1998, 4 janvier 1999, exh. cat. (Paris: Reunion des Musees Nationaux, 1998).

A Space for Dialogue, exh. cat. (Hanover, N.H.: Hood Museum of Art, 2011).

Essi Ronkko and Hood Museum of Art, “Hood Museum,” http://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu (accessed June 2011-July 2021).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.