Egyptian Limestone Sculptor's Model

SKU: MS.0008

Origin: Egypt
Circa: 30TH Dynasty to Early Ptolemaic Period, circa 4th - 3rd Century BC
Dimensions: 4.75" Height (12.1 cm)
Medium: Limestone

Heads of a king, like this one, became popular in the Late and Ptolemaic periods and may have been used as models for sculptors or votive offerings. In the form of a bust of a pharaoh, wearing a nemes-headcloth, and fronted by a uraeus with its tail extending back over the crown of his head, this delicately modeled sculpture exudes a distinctive nobility in spite of its rather small stature.  The idealized royal portrait features a sfumato brow line above almond-shaped eyes, elongated at their inner and outer canthi, and fleshy lips below. The proper left side of the face is unfinished, sculpted only in flat planes at oblique angles to one another, while the back, underside and lappets preserve delicately incised grid lines.

with Charles Ede, London, 1978

Intact, with minor chips to the edges throughout. Minor losses to the front of the uraeus, the nose, the lips. Minor incrustation on the surface overall. The back preserving some inked collection numbers and reminents of an old label.

Small Late Period and Ptolemaic reliefs or sculptures that depict a subject in a partial or unfinished way but are themselves finished objects constitute a special class of object. The incised grid lines found on many of these items along with their uninished appearance have compelled Egyptologists to refer to them as sculptor’s models, or trial pieces. However, because royal busts of this type were commonly found in temples, it has been suggested that they may have served as a votive, or offering, to a divinity in his or her shrine.

For two similar examples see nos. 8 and 9, pl. 11 in N. Tomoum The Sculptors' Models of the Late and Ptolemaic Periods. For another, also partly unfinished, see no. 11 in E. Young, "Sculptors' Models or Votives?, In Defense of a Scholarly Tradition," in Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 22.

Stanwick, Paul 2002. Portraits of the Ptolemies: Greek Kings as Egyptian Pharaohs. Austin, cat. A22, p. 67, 86, 90, 91, 102.



Egyptian Limestone Sculptor's Model


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