Fayum Mummy Portraits
Charles T. Currelly, one of the founders of the Royal Ontario Museum, obtained two Fayum mummy portraits from Sotheby's in 1912. Romano-Egyptian Fayum portraits, which originally covered the face of mummies, hold great significance as they represent some of the earliest known and most finely painted portraits in the history of art. Mummy portraits identified the deceased and were created with wax or tempera on wood panels or canvas shrouds during the Roman era in Egypt from about 20–300 CE. They show us not only a wide diversity of the people who once lived in Roman Egypt but also shed light on popular trends 2,000 years ago. Wonderfully preserved and together again after being separated for more than 100 years, the two mummy portraits provide an unmatched source of information on Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultural traditions.