Ptolemaic Period Sandstone Sculpture of a King

SKU X.0392

332 BC to 30 BC


12″ (30.5cm) high





Gallery Location



Following the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided between his three generals, each of whom set up their own kingdoms. One of them, Ptolemy, took Egypt as his share and made Alexandria his capital. Ruling as Ptolemy I Soter, he established the last dynasty to rule Egypt with the title of Pharaoh. For the next two and a half centuries, the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Greeks controlled Egypt, mingling Hellenic traditions with the mighty legacy of the Pharaohs.

This stunning sandstone sculpture reveals the intermingling of native Egyptian and Greek artistic traditions. Depicting a typical cloth nemes headdress, this mask likely represents one of the Ptolemaic Kings, although it is difficult to determine which particular one. The overall forms of the work, the rigid stance of the body with the arms clenched closely to his sides, and the costumes all conform to the standards of Egyptian art that had been formed over the past three thousand years. However, the facial features bear the influence of the Hellenistic tradition that valued naturalism over idealism. Particularly, the sweetly smiling face and high cheek bones both suggest individualized features. This magnificent work reveals the artistic link between Pharaonic Egpyt and the Ptolemaic Period.

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