Woman with Scroll


Evan and Anne discuss Marble Portrait Bust of a Woman with a Scroll, late 4th–early 5th century C.E., pentelic marble, 53 x 27.5 x 22.2 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collection)


Additional resources:

This sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Smarthistory’s free Guide to Byzantine Art e-book



For the classroom

Questions for study or discussion

Thinking about context

  • How might this sculpture have been originally displayed? What details support your position?
  • What functions did sculptures like this serve in the Roman world?

Thinking about this object

  • What materials and techniques were used to create this sculpture?
  • In what condition does this sculpture survive?
  • How can we reconstruct this sculpture’s original appearance?
  • What role do materials and techniques play in the sculpture’s appearance and the viewer’s experience of it?

Thinking about iconography

  • What does this sculpture tell us about the woman it depicts? How does it do this?
  • What does this sculpture suggest about the experiences of women in its time and place?
  • In what ways might this woman’s experiences have been the same or different from other women of her time?

Thinking about art history

  • How does this sculpture fit within the broader history of art?
Cite this page as: Dr. Evan Freeman and Dr. Anne McClanan, "Woman with Scroll," in Smarthistory, February 3, 2020, accessed October 26, 2021, https://smarthistory.org/woman-with-scroll/.