Ptolemaic Marble Bust of a Youth

SKU: HQ.0090

Origin: Alexandria
Circa: Ptolemaic Period, 3rd Century BC to 1st Century BC
Dimensions: 5.5” Height (14 cm) excluding the base; 8.25” Height (21cm) including the base
Medium: Marble

The youth with fleshy smiling face, the hair closely cropped on top and dressed with the curled lock of Eternal Youth of Harpocrates, hanging behind the right ear and onto the shoulder, all kept slightly rougher contrasting against the polished skin. The bust and neck are softly and naturalistically modeled. 

Sotheby’s, London, Antiquities Sale, July 13, 1981 lot 85. Graham Geddes Collection, Melbourne Australia. Private Australian Collection.

Overall in a good state of preservation, with original polished surface, the nose and mouth worn as shown.

Sculpted as a bust, the piece may represent a royal child. While a definitive attribution is not possible the form is a known type utilized by royal princes and princess. The children of Pharaohs and high officials adopted the side lock of youth, which is more widely associated with the child deity Harpocrates, the god of silence and secrets. Common for works in marble from the Hellenistic period from Alexandria this piece presents an area that appears unfinished. Originally these sections were finished in stucco as marble is not native to Alexandria, making marble a more expensive option and suited for royal depictions. But if the bust is a representation of the child god than it is a very early example as images of the deity started to be seen in Alexandria during the Hellenistic period. The worship quickly spread throughout the Greco-Egyptian world and into the Roman period.



Ptolemaic Marble Bust of a Youth


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