Fragrance in Art: Marble Relief with Two Goddesses (1st-2nd century A.D.)


Lower part of a marble relief with two goddesses, Imperial Rome, 1st–2nd century A.D. Marble, 53 1/2 in. (135.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1924. 24.97.99

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art website: “The two goddesses are closely related to the figures of Demeter and Persephone on the Great Eleusinian Relief. . . .The altarlike incense burner between them must be an addition of the Roman copyist. This relief is said to have been found at Eleusis.”

Photo by Tinsel Creation.

Just Because: First-Century Portrait of a Woman (with Perfume!)

Portrait of a Woman. Er-Rubayat, ca. 100-120 A.D.
Portrait of a Woman. Er-Rubayat, ca. 100-120 A.D.

The British Museum describes this small mummy-portrait as “cheerful” if “rather amateurish.” It also notes her jewelry—the snake bracelet, the dangling earrings, the layered necklaces—and, last but not least, the small bottle she clasps:

“In her hand she holds a small unguentarium, or bottle for scented oils, which were often placed in graves as offerings to the dead. Here, perhaps, it is simply intended to represent a bottle of her favorite perfume.”

Indeed. If you were an ancient Egyptian, wouldn’t you want to take your favorite fragrances into the afterlife with you? I would.

Source: Paul Roberts, Mummy Portraits of Roman Egypt. London, The British Museum, 2008.

Yoko Ono and Fragrance, Part 1: “One Woman Show”


I recently attended the press preview for “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” at the Museum of Modern Art. I was preparing to write a short piece about the exhibition as a freelance assignment (see here!), but this visit ended up being pleasure as well as work.

I even picked up a few fragrance references that I’d like to share here. One came in connection with Ono’s 1971 “exhibition” at MoMA, which was actually a work of Conceptual art rather than a literal exhibition. Continue reading