Bronze Sculpture of a Pharaoh

SKU LO.1034

664 BC to 30 BC


7.5″ (19.1cm) high x 2.7″ (6.9cm) wide





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This image of an ancient Egypt pharaoh depicts him in a kneeling pose, which is the most common attitude adopted by the ancient Egyptian metal smiths for royal representations of their rulers in bronze. Our king wears a striated kilt which is secured at the waist by a braided belt together with a striated nemes-headdress fronted by a uraeus. The stripes of the lappets falling on to his shoulders are narrower and more closely spaced than those on the part that covers the head proper. His arms are bent at the waist and rest on the top of his tights with the palms open and vertical in order to accommodate a now-missing element, most probably a shrine in which appeared an image of a deity. Our statuette is provided with two tangs for insertion into a now missing base.

Although not inscribed, our anonymous portrait can be assigned to the Late Period on the basis of its style. The careful modeling of the torso places attention on its tri-partition while emphasizing a pinched, somewhat high waist and corpulent lower abdominal region. The canon of proportions conforms to that introduced during Dynasty XXVI so that ration of the height of the head to that of the height of the body produces a slightly more attenuated figure in which the head appears to be relatively smaller in proportion to the body; this proportional distinction is thereafter repeated in later dynasties. In keeping with this proportional diminution, the shape of the head is wider than it is tall, and characterized by idealizing features. These include horizontally arranged almond-shaped eyes, a nose with broad wings, and a small mouth, likewise horizontally aligned, with thin lips.

One can, therefore, assigned our bronze portrait of an anonymous pharaoh to the period between 664 and 30 B.C. Its preserved gilding sets it apart from many other examples of this well-known type.

References: Marshal Hill, Royal Bronze Statuary from Ancient Egypt with Special Attention to the Kneeling Pose (Leiden 2004), pages 75-117.

Description and interpretation kindly provided by Prof. Robert S. Bianchi.

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