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Portraits of men, painted in wax on wooden panels from Hawara and dating to the Mid-2nd century AD. Manchester Museum.

The hairstyles in these portraits show the influence of fashions set by the Imperial family in Rome. The men's styles in the images followed the Emperors contemporary fashion, well known from coins and statues, whereas those of the provincial women may not have reflected contemporary Roman fashion so closely.

The people depicted in these portraits represent Greeks, Egyptians and those of other Mediterranean origin. They occurred in the Faiyum at a period when there was a large, prosperous population of immigrants who included veteran soldiers and those engaged in commerce.

These portraits were probably painted by itinerant artists living in the Faiyum. The panel, made up of cypress, lime or sycamore wood, was prepared with a ground of gypsum plaster or plaster of whiting and glue. The portrait was roughly sketched on this in black or red paint. The paint, made from natural mineral or vegetable pigments, wax then applied. As a medium for the paint, either water and an adhesive material were used or, more often, the pigment was ground and mixed with wax.


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