late Ptolemaic period, near to or in the reign of Cleopatra, circa 50-30 B.C.
About this head Robert Bianchi writes, "this image is well within the ambit of Alexandrian sculpture, relying as its sculptor did upon plaster for its completion. In its overall conception this head compares most favorably with a contemporary marble head in Alexandria, long regarded as an outstanding example of the Alexandrian school, and dated to the second half of the 1st century BC (Alexandria, Graeco-Roman Museum 25449: G. Grimm and D. Wildung, Götter, Pharaonen, Mainz am Rhein, 1979, no. 128). The head in a private collection is close in the overall design of the head and face in its physiognomic details to numismatic images of Cleopatra VII associated with the Syrian mint at Damascus in 37/36 BC. One is tempted, therefore, on the basis of these details to identify this head as a representation of a more youthful Cleopatra VII.
The presence of the roughened surfaces of the crown of the head precludes attempts to reconstruct the appearance of the coiffure. The distinct band-like ridge at the juncture of the hairline and the face may suggest the presence of a diadem, although known depictions of the Queen habitually represent the diadem further back on the head allowing a fringe of locks to fall onto the forehead. One wonders, therefore, whether this particular image, if it is to be ascribed to the early part of her reign, is indebted to the iconography of her father, with whom she was closely linked. The position of the diadem on this head invites comparison with a similarly positioned diadem on a marble head in Paris identified as a portrait of her father, Ptolemy XII Auletes (Paris, Musée du Louvre Ma 3449: S.-A. Ashton, in S. Walker and P. Higgs, Cleopatra of Egypt, London, 2001, p. 157, no. 155). That an image of Cleopatra VII should ape royal male fashion is not unexpected, given the fact that the earliest securely dated image of Cleopatra VII depicts her in the guise of a male pharaoh. The absence of both the expected top knot and bun would be consistent with this iconographic programme [some footnotes omitted]."
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