We saw many beautiful things on a recent visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Among the beautiful objects was a pair of funerary portraits: one of a young man painted about 138 – 192 AD, the other a young woman painted some time in that same period. The subjects’ gaze is haunting, their faces are at once attractive and lost; they could be our friends or neighbors but are now separated from us by nearly two millennia. Eyes of the present meet eyes of the past and we mourn a man and a woman we cannot know.
Funerary Portraits: “So-called mummy portraits were apparently painted during the owners’ lives and hung in their homes. At the time of the owner’s death, the portrait was taken down, cut from its frame, and trimmed to fit the deceased’s mummy, to which it was bound. It was at that time also that the gilding on the center painting was added.” — Description by the Cleveland Museum of Art
Encaustic? Wax painting. See WikiPedia.