Portrait Bust of a Woman with a Scroll
Byzantine, late 4th–early 5th century, made in Constantinople (marble, 20 inches high)
This sensitively carved portrait bust presents a mature woman with a thoughtful expression and piercing gaze; the scroll held in her right hand signals an appreciation for classical learning and marks her as a member of the elite. She wears a mantle, tunic, and head covering, typical dress for an aristocratic woman. Such head coverings did not come into fashion until the fourth century. The bust likely formed part of a commemorative display, perhaps documenting a public donation, or was used in a domestic setting.
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art