Funerary Fayum Portrait

Funerary Fayum Portraits

Portrait of a woman, Antinopolis, 130-150 CE

Funerary Portraits from Roman Egypt: Facing Forward


A Lecture, an Exhibit, and a Workshop


Last week I had the opportunity to go to a lecture by artist Francisco Benitez and Kate Smith, who is the curator at the Harvard Museums. The lecture was about the Fayum portraits concurrent with the exhibit Funerary Portraits from Roman Egypt: Facing Forward at the Harvard Museums. Francisco gave a detailed and extensive history of the Fayum portraits. What they are, how they have survived for over 2000 years, the history of the development of encaustic painting in Greece, and how it got to be used on the Fayum portraits in Egypt.

As someone who has been using encaustic for over ten years, I knew some of the history, but Francisco‚Äôs knowledge is extensive. He has even traveled to Greece to find the city where there was an arts academy where artists were trained to use encaustic. In his own painting, he has dedicated himself to trying to use some of the same methods that those original painters used. 

Workshop Portraits

After the lecture, we went to see the exhibit which includes: five Fayum portraits, technical information, and documentation of the research discovered about the portraits. There is a great video of Francisco painting. The exhibition will be up until Dec. 30, 2022. It is really worth seeing!

I took a three-hour workshop with Francisco and learned some of his techniques.

We had a picture of a Fayum portrait that we were to copy. I must say I was a bit nervous since I really have not done any realistic work since College, but in the end, mine came out fairly well. I think I might be experimenting with his techniques, even with my abstract work in encaustic.

Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy St, Cambridge,MA.

August 27-Dec 30, 2022 Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10-5, Free on Sundays

https://harvardartmuseums.org/