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Egypt, Roman Period, ca. 100 BCE to 100 CE. A carved marble head of a female, likely Isis given her hair style and the hole atop her head which probably held her crown or symbolic crest. Her pleasant visage presents a tranquil countenance with her head slightly tilted toward the left, her steadfast gaze with almond-shaped eyes framed by arched brows, an aquiline nose, gently smiling closed lips, and full cheeks. Her long wavy locks are drawn away from her face to a low chignon at the nape of her neck with long banana curls falling down the sides of her neck. In addition, a lovely band/diadem crowns her coiffure, and the hole atop her head likely once held a Romanification of the traditional Egyptian headdress of Isis, which the goddess gained after she assimilated the roles of Hathor and is traditionally comprised of the horns of a cow with the solar disc between them. A wonderful sculpture with excellent provenance. Size: 5.5" W x 9" H (14 cm x 22.9 cm); 11.625" H (29.5 cm) on included custom stand.
Isis, an ancient Egyptian goddess, struck a chord with the polytheistic worshippers of the Roman Empire, and her worship spread throughout it during the early centuries of the Imperial Period. For example, there is a gorgeous wall painting preserved at Pompeii of her greeting a Greek heroine. The emperor Caligula (reigned 37-41 CE) established a procession honoring the goddess that wound through Rome during his reign; according to the historian Josephus, Caligula went so far as to dress in female garb and take part in the mysteries of the Isis cult. Temples honoring her, called Iseum, were established throughout Rome, with many emperors seeking her favor and protection - Hadrian decorated his villa at Tibur with scenes from her life, and Galerius regarded her as his personal protector.
Provenance: ex-private Massachusetts, USA collection, acquired at a Sotheby Parke-Bernet sale (January 20, 1967 - lot 89)
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