Veiled Head of a Woman

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Veiled Head of a Woman

1st Century B.C. to 1st Century A.D.
H: 21.6cm



An idealised portrait of a woman’s head carved from smooth white marble, once part of a larger statue. The face is smooth and round, with a soft chin and full lips. The heavy-lidded almond-shaped eyes, fine eyebrows, and straight nose all reflect the style of Late Classical Greece, originated by the master sculptor Praxiteles. This is also true of the hairstyle, with curls rolled into rows pulled back from the face and gathered behind in a chignon to create a ribbed effect (a style referred to as the melonfrisur, or ‘melon-hairdo’ by scholars). The thick folds of the veil framing the face and neck would have continued to drape around the body and shoulders of the figure in a garment signalling piety and modesty.

These features are seen in sculptures of goddesses and queens from both the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In this example, the frontality of the head and the modelling of the lips, fully separated by a running drill, suggest a Roman date. During the reign of Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138 A.D.), Hellenising features were combined with new techniques such as greater plasticity in the modelling of the faces and curls. Hadrian was philhellene and idealised the Greek classical past. He built extensively in Athens, Eleusis, and Pergamum, and initiated the creation of the Panhellenion – a league of Greek city-states.


Reputedly from Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, according to old collection label.
Previously in the Private Collection of Shannon Rodgers (1911-1996) and Jerry Silverman (1910-1984), New York, most likely collected between the early 1960s and c. 1982, accompanied by a photograph of the head, most likely taken c. 1982 in Rodger’s Park Avenue, New York, flat; and an insurance document for ‘Mr Rodgers’ Apartment’, recorded as being in the First Floor Living Room.
Kent State University Museum, Ohio (accession number 1983.4.60ab), acquired from the above in 1983, accompanied by the collection label.
ALR: S00235753, with IADAA Certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database.

Note on the Provenance

Hadrian’s Villa on Monti Tiburtini near Tivoli, outside Rome, was built by Emperor Hadrian in around 120 A.D. as a retreat from the city. The villa complex contains over thirty monumental buildings arranged across a series of artificial esplanades and landscaped gardens, cultivated farmlands, and water features – covering an area of at least a square kilometer in total. The region was selected due to its abundant water supply, in close proximity to four aqueducts that continued on to Rome: Anio Vetus, Anio Nobus, Aqua Marcia, and Aqua Claudia. It was easily accessible, and could be reached via the ancient Roman roads Tiburtina and Prenestina, as well as the River Aniene.

The complex was constructed as a series of independent and interlocking structures, each with their own purpose. The Poecile was a vast garden with a swimming pool, surrounded by an arcade so that it could be enjoyed in any season. The Canopus was a long water basin featuring columns and statues, leading to a temple topped by an umbrella dome, and the remains of two bath areas (the Grandi Terme, and the Piccole Terme). These structures were designed for the use of the imperial family and their guests, and were decorated with polychrome stucco. Other well-preserved areas includes the accademia, the stadio or arena, the Imperial Palace, the Philosopher’s Room, the Greek Theatre, and the Piazza d’Oro. There was even an artificial island, the Maritime Theatre, surrounded by a canal and colonnade.

In the eighteenth century, Hadrian’s Villa became the site of many excavations by cardinals and other visitors as part of the Grand Tour. The first excavation was undertaken by Francis Antonio Lally in 1722, who unearthed a series of sculptures interred in pits, probably buried during antiquity. Other famous excavations include those by Alessandro Furietti in 1736 and 1737, leading to the discovery of the Furietti centaurs – a pair of black marble sculptures signed in Greek by Aristeas and Papies from Aphrodisias. Much of what was excavated during this period is now in the Museo Pio-Clementino in the Vatican.

Shannon Rodgers (1911-1996) was born on 3rd August 1911 in Newcomerstown, Ohio. He studied design in Cleveland and began his fashion career styling costumes for plays and musicals at the Cleveland Playhouse. He soon moved to New York on the advice of a colleague, where he worked for Bergman Studio as a set and costume designer. His work on the ornaments on the Greek costume in the 1932 play, The Warrior’s Husband caught the attention of film director Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille contacted the film’s producers, who informed him that the work had been done by ‘a kid from Ohio’. Rodgers moved to Hollywood to work on DeMille’s movies, including Cleopatra (1934) and The Adventures of Marco Polo. During the 1930s, Rodgers worked under many of the most well-known designers of the period on films such as Man Chases Woman, Vogues of 1938, Prisoner of Zenda, Marie Antoinette, and The Barretts of Wimpole Street. During the Second World War, Rodgers was drafted into the U.S. Army Transport Service as a Supply Auditor on board the S.S. Lurline and the S.S. Mariposa.
On a trip to New York after his return to Hollywood, Rodgers was stopped by old friend and museum director, Jean Druesedow. Druesedow told Rodgers someone was hiring in the building they were standing by and suggested he go inside. Rodgers was initially reluctant, but then he learned that the man in question was Jerry Silverman.
Jerry Silverman (1910-1984) was born on 16th January 1910 in New York. He attended the Staunton Military Academy (VA) and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1933. He joined the law firm of Levy, Kraus and Lehman in New York, and for the next five years his clients in the fashion industry encouraged him to pursue real passion and switch careers. In 1938, Silverman took their advice and took a position at the clothing company, Martini Designed. Within two years he was a partial owner, the company’s sales manager, and vice president. He served in the military during the Second World War, progressing to the position of sergeant major. Silverman returned to Martini Designed after the war, and hired Rodgers to work for the company as a designer in 1946.
In 1959 Silverman founded Jerry Silverman Inc., with Shannon Rodgers as principal designer. The company’s ethos was to focus on practical but fashionable clothing – the ‘meat and potatoes of the dress industry, not the frosting’, as Silverman put it. Their ready-to-wear outfits, mostly jackets and dresses, were sold at department stores and boutiques across the U.S.. Rodgers’ designs appealed due to their simple forms, colourful fabrics and functionality, enabling women to easily get dressed without any assistance; one of the most popular styles was the chemise, a straight dress with two side seams, which could be slipped over the head. Eight of the dresses in the first-season line in 1959 grossed over half a million dollars, and significant figures, including Princess Margaret, Bess Myerson, and First Ladies Patricia Nixon, ‘Lady Bird’ Johnson, and Rosalynn Carter, all sporting Silverman designs. Jerry Silverman quickly became the only acceptable line for many stylish American women, as captured by their advertising slogan: ‘Just show me the Jerry Silvermans, please’. In 1972, the company was acquired by Warnaco, with Silverman staying on as an advisor.
Both Silverman and Rodgers were known for their support of the New York fashion industry. Silverman was founder and president of Fashion Capital of the World, an organisation which promoted American ready-to-wear clothing. He also served as trustee to the Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. The pair owned adjoining penthouse apartments in New York, and a country house upstate. They were known for their great hospitality; they took summer trips to Paris to view the couture collections, and hosted extravagant parties for Rodgers’ August birthday in England and France.
In the 1960s, Rodgers began using his earnings from the company’s success to collect costumes and art objects. Cora Ginsburg, a major dealer in antique costuming, became his close friend and advisor on purchasing high quality antique costumes. Rodgers and Silverman rented out a loft in Chelsea, New York, specifically to house their growing collection. The pair collected more than 4,000 garments, accessories, and historical artefacts, as well as a library of around 5,000 books.
In the late 1970s, Silverman was diagnosed with cancer, and the pair began to consider the distribution of their estates. They first considered donating to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but decided against it as their collection would probably only be displayed during specific exhibitions, and they wanted to keep it all together and always on display. Rodgers wanted the donation to go to his home state Ohio, and in 1975, he helped the Newcomerstown Historical Society purchase a building to house 1,500 of his period pieces – these were named the Elizabeth Chapman Rodgers Collection, after his mother. However, due to a lack of local interest and some legal issues, Rodgers had to reconsider where to donate his collection.

In 1979, Rodgers was invited by Rachel Redinger, the founder of outdoor historical drama Trumpet in the Land, to accept the theatre’s Golden Rose Award. After Redinger toured the collections and heard of their difficulty finding a home for them, she suggested they consider donating them to a university – specifically Kent State University, of whose Cheshunt Society she was a member. Silverman and Rodgers decided to hold the premiere of the new 1979 Jerry Silverman line to coincide with Rodgers’ acceptance of the Golden Rose. After the success of the show, KSU President Brage Golding offered to turn the university’s Rockwell Hall into a museum for the Silverman-Rodgers collection, and to establish the country’s second School of Fashion Design in their honour. The pair happily accepted and the gift (worth over $5 million) was announced in May 1981. Both were highly involved in the fundraising and renovation of Rockwell Hall, putting on further fashion shows at the university and bringing celebrities such as the Prince and Princess of Kent, England, to KSU events.
Silverman died on 25 October 1984, before Kent State University Museum’s official opening in September 1985. Rodgers designed every gallery for the opening show: Dazzle: Opening in Style. Rodgers moved to Kent in 1987 and remained involved with the project, serving as the museum’s creative director, curator, associate director, and as an adjunct professor at the university. He became the first inductee of Kent’s Fashion Hall of Fame in 1989, and was elected as a fellow of the Costume Society of America in 1991. Rodgers was also officially recognised as an Outstanding Philanthropist by the North/Central Ohio Chapter of the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives. He died in 1996.
Current faculty of the museum still note Rodgers’ overwhelming influence on the collection, both on its contents and its presentation. Silverman and Rodgers’ donation means KSU Museum is still one of the largest collections of fashion and design in the U.S., and the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising hosts one of the premier fashion programmes in the country.