Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: Egyptian encaustic portrait

Portrait of the Boy Eutyches, unknown artist
Portrait of the Boy Eutyches, unknown artist

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art; use zoom or download arrows under the image for high-res version.

This two thousand year old painting on wood panel, in the hot wax process of encaustic, highlights the characteristics of that medium to not yellow or change chemically with age.

The painstaking painting process involves hot beeswax, sometimes combined with cold wax, resins, oil or egg. The resulting surface, often with layered strokes, has a dimensional quality, and can have some of the appearance of oil painting.

This is perhaps the best example of the kind of paintings on wood placed over mummies known as “Faiyum Portraits”, for the location of the most notable finds. Though an Egyptian practice, the painting style is an adaptation of Greco-Roman artistic traditions, very different from classic Egyptian art forms.