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Head of a god or royal figure

This fragmentary red granite head in all likelihood depicts either a royal figure or a deity. The archaizing features of the triangular face are delicately sculpted, featuring a broad nose, prominent cheekbones and a rounded chin. The fleshy lips are pursed into a serene smile, further accentuated by the indented corners of the mouth. The preserved eye, slender and almond shaped with an extended cosmetic line, is deeply recessed to receive now-missing inlays. The remains of a crown are preserved low on the forehead, confirming the royal or divine status of the depicted individual, which could already be assumed by the sculptural quality and the use of red granite from the quarries of Aswan, an expensive material.

The surface retains its original polish and toolmarks can be observed in raking light. A subtle patina on the on the proper left side reveals a glimpse of the interment conditions of the piece in post-pharaonic times.

The head appears to be a work of the Third Intermediate Period, when artists drew inspiration from the elegant, idealizing style of the 18th Dynasty.

Object information

Red Aswan Granite
Date and place:
Egypt, 664 - 332 v. Chr.
18,5 cm high
Private collection JK, Belgium, 2006; Collection Axel Vervoordt; Christie's New York, June 6, 2006, lot 178; Collection of The Rockefeller University, New York, 1974; Private Collection Alfred E. Mirsky (1900-1974); Acquired from Spink & Son, London, 1960.

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