Fresco Fragment: Woman on a Balcony

Unknownabout 9 B.C. - A.D. 14

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

A young woman stands looking out from a balcony on this Roman fresco fragment. She sips from a shallow cup and steadies an oinochoe, or pitcher, on the balcony railing. The identity of the woman remains uncertain. She may be a highborn daughter relaxing in her home, or she may be a servant girl avoiding her chores. Another interpretation is that the woman alludes to a famous work of the Greek painter Pausias made in the 300s B.C. that depicted Methe, the personification of drunkenness.

This fresco is only a small fragment cut from an entire wall of painted decoration. The color scheme used on the fragment associates it with the so-called Second Style of Roman wall painting, a style that used illusionistic architecture to create a three-dimensional effect. This fragment is probably from the upper zone of a small dining room, or triclinium. The right-to-left shadows cast by the bosses on the railing indicate that this painting originally decorated the right-hand wall of the room as one entered it.

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  • Title: Fresco Fragment: Woman on a Balcony
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: about 9 B.C. - A.D. 14
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 60 x 45.2 x 3 cm (23 5/8 x 17 13/16 x 1 3/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Fresco
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California, Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman
  • Object Type: Fresco
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 96.AG.172
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 207, Women and Children in Antiquity
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Roman
  • Credit Line: Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman
  • Classification: Paintings