Egypt, Late Dynastic, 26th Dynasty, ca. 664 to 525 BCE. Finely carved from marble, a mesmerizing visage comprised of heavy-lidded, almond-shaped eyes, a delicate upturned nose, and full, heart-shaped lips marked by a dimple at each corner, wearing a striated wig. Egyptian sculpture is best known for being highly stylized and presenting rigid poses; however, this portrait is surprisingly lifelike despite its more-than-likely funerary purpose. When Egyptian sculptors wished to attain permanence in their sculptures, usually when creating the statues and sarcophagi of their Pharaoh kings, or for officials in service to these elites, they oftentimes used the hardest materials, like basalt, diorite, granite, or in this case marble. Clearly the subject of this portrait was an individual of import. Custom stand. Size: 3.125" W x 3.75" H (7.9 cm x 9.5 cm); 6.125" H (15.6 cm) on stand
Ancient Egyptian sculpture was usually associated with funerary tombs and temples which were conceived of as eternal resting places for a god whose statue was kept behind a series of closed hallways, opened only for brief periods when the sun or moon or a certain star reached a point on the horizon from which its rays shone upon the innermost shrine. These sculptures were of a monumental scale and were consulted as oracles. Egyptian tombs, however, were vaults where portrait statues of the deceased king or queen were placed. They also included statues of public officials, scribes, and couples, these representing man and wife. The walls surrounding them featured scenes illustrating all manner of activities such as hunting, agricultural scenes, fishing, commercial pursuits like making metalworks, glass, or statues, the construction of pyramids, women mourning, boys playing sports, etc.
Provenance: ex-collection of Pierre & Claude Verite, Paris, France; acquired between 1930 and 1960
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