Fayum portraits are considered the oldest modernist paintings and the origins of framed art. Artists created images of the deceased using a technique known as encaustic painting, which consisted of using colored pigment mixed with heated beeswax. The portraits would sometimes extend onto the cloth wrappings.
Artists painted the majority of the portraits on panels or boards made from different imported hardwoods, including cedar, cypress, oak, lime, and sycamore. They cut the wood into thin panels and smoothed the pieces. Upon finishing the panels, they would set the portraits into layers of wrapping that enclosed the bodies, surrounding them with bands of cloth. This gave a window-like opening effect through which faces of the deceased could be seen, essentially framing the portraits.