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Archeological Object

Portrait of a young woman (so-called "Sappho")

Portrait of a young woman (so-called "Sappho")

The painting, in Fourth Style, shows the bust of a girl with a polyptich of four wax tablets in her left hand and a stylus in her right, which she puts to her lips in an affected pose of deep thought, almost as though she wanted to think for a second before beginning to write; her hair is kept in place by a delicate gilded net from which soft curls emerge and dangle over her forehead and the sides of her face, which has a serene expression and is regular in its features, characterised by large hazel eyes. She wears a cloak of iridescent colours over a green tunic, gold earrings and a ring on her left ring-finger. This small painting, which formed a pair with a male portrait, is composed according to a very familiar pattern, used for example for Paquius Proculus and his wife, from which it differs only in two details: the way the stylus is held and the fact that the tablets are faced towards the girl rather than the viewer. It lacks any attempt to be a real portrait, which would also exclude any possibility of identifying the girl with the famous Greek poetess Sappho who gives the name to the picture; instead, it belongs to the category of the intentional portrait, intended in this case, with the type of the docta puella (studious girl), to highlight the fact that the girl belongs to a cultured wealthy family.

Further information
Codici (Label is not translated)
  Ente_competente: Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici delle Province di Napoli e Caserta
  SGTI: cd Saffo
Localizzazione_geografico-amministrativa (Label is not translated)
  PVCS: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Napoli
  LDCT: palazzo
  Name: Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
  Indirizzo: Piazza Museo, 19 - 80135
  Location: Currently awaiting redisplay
Altre_localizzazioni_geografico_amministrative_reperimento (Label is not translated)
  PRVS: Italia
  regione: CAMPANIA
  provincia: Napoli
  comune: Pompei
  PRCC: Pompei Scavi
Dati_patrimoniali (Label is not translated)
  Inventory number: 9084
  INVD: 1863 post
Modalita_di_reperimento (Label is not translated)
  SCAN: Insula VI 17
  DSCD: 1760/05/24
Dati_tecnici (Label is not translated)
  MISU: cm.
  Height: 37
  Width: 38
Dati_analitici (Label is not translated)
  Inscriptions - text:

Condizione_giuridica_e_vincoli (Label is not translated)
  CDGG: proprietà Stato
Fonti_e_documenti_di_riferimento (Label is not translated)

Pompeii lives 1984, n. 39, p. 98; Collezioni Museo 1989 I, 1, n. 232, p. 156; Ling 1991, p. 158, fig. 169; Bellezza e lusso 1992, n. 3, pp. 104-105; Peinture Pompéi 1993, p. 44, tav. 86; De Caro 1994, n. 188; Romana Pictura 1998, n. 138, p. 313; Barbet 1999, p. 69; De Caro 1999, p. 151; Homo Faber 1999, n. 277, p. 210; De Caro 2001b, p. 115; Glycera 2004, n. 34, p. 25.