15 September 1998

The University of Queensland's Antiquities Museum has acquired an extremely rare Roman marble portrait of a young girl aged about 7.

Museum curator Bruce Gollan said it was likely that the work was created in the Eastern Roman Empire and that the subject was born into a family of the highest rank in that area. Stylistic criteria allow the piece to be dated to the third century AD.

"It is very rare to find a Roman portrait of a child, and even rarer to find one in such fresh condition," he said.

"Coming so soon after our splendid Egyptian mummy mask, this acquisition marks 1998 as an annus mirabilis for the museum."

Mr Gollan said it also marked the culmination of a long-established element of the Museum's acquisitions policy - that is, to collect examples of the various styles of representation of deities and mortals in the ancient Mediterranean world.

"With this new piece, we are in a position to mount a special exhibition upon this topic," he said.

Mr Gollan described the sculptor who created the work as "a consummate master of the art".

"The features are so sensitively and subtly modelled as to perfectly express the tender charm and innocent joy of childhood. Also worthy of note is the virtuosic rendering of the hair," he said.

"No one who gazes upon this work could fail to be captivated by it."

For more information, contact Bruce Gollan (telephone 3365 2643 or facsimile 3365 1399).