This bust depicts a woman who is either middle-aged or older. Her serious facial expression, which can be broadly characterized as veristic, is meant to convey true depiction of age. This bust was most likely part of a funerary niche demonstrating how she wanted to be represented for all posterity. The hole at the back of her head is likely where a metal bar was placed to uphold this piece.
The history of these sculptured busts demonstrates a back-and-forth between veristic and classical depictions, ultimately resulting in variations during the reigns of different emperor’s. However, even the veristic depictions are questionable as true and accurate portraits of the person in his or her daily life. These busts were spearheaded by the emperors and public officials who mainly commissioned these works.
Ultimately, regardless of the different intentions motivating the busts of emperors and the bust of this woman, some of the same questions may be asked of both: to what extent is the combination of veristic and idealized style intentional? They are also similar in that they were meant to leave an image of how he or she might have wanted to be presented and seen in life and death.