Friday, September 10, 2010

Two thousand years later, still quite a woman

How does a piece of art survive in near-perfect condition for almost 2,000 years?

You bury it.

“Egypt is the perfect place to preserve wood, fibers and mummies,” says Robert Cohon, curator of ancient art at the Nelson. “It’s dry, there are no plants or tree roots to interfere with the coffin, and there is no problem with moisture and humidity out in the desert.”

“Portrait of a Woman” at one time had been placed over the face of an Egyptian mummy. It depicts a woman of about 35. Given the jewelry she is wearing, she probably lived a comfortable life.

The piece is painted on smooth wood using the encaustic technique.

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