Kallos Gallery

An Egyptian granite relief portrait of a Ptolemaic queen

This fragment is from a Ptolemaic rose granite relief depicting the bust of a queen wearing the vulture headdress specific to Egyptian queens and goddesses

Circa 3rd-2nd Century BC

19.5cm high

An Egyptian granite relief portrait of a Ptolemaic queen

Circa 3rd-2nd Century BC

19.5cm high

 

The whole figure of the queen, carved in both techniques of the low and hollowed relief, would have originally measured about forty centimeters in height.

The image depicts a youthful female face seen in profile to the right. She may be dated to the Hellenistic period of Ptolemaic Egypt, circa 2nd Century BC.

The almond-shaped eye is enhanced with a sweeping cosmetic line reaching the temple. A thick simple, circular necklace, which was probably made of precious metal, adorns the décolleté of the young woman.

She is shown wearing a tripartite wig covering her head like a cap and falling onto her chest and onto her back. Her wig is surmounted with a vulture headdress, the  head of the bird reaching out above her forehead and the right wing descending behind the ear. The unusual headdress allows us to determine that the relief depicts a high-ranking female figure, most likely a queen, as in Egyptian iconography only goddesses and queens would be crowned with the vulture headdress.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cleopatra’s Egypt, Age of the Ptolemies, Mainz/Rhine, 1988, pp. 102-104, n. 13-14.

PAGE-GASSER M. – WIESE A.B., Egypte, Moments d’éternité, Mainz/Rhine, 1997, pp. 293-294, n. 200.

Anonymous sale, Messrs Sotheby’s Wellington St Strand, March 10 1883;

Lieutenant General A. H. L. F. Pitt‐Rivers, acquired from above (original inventory book found in Pitt Rivers Museum Archives dating back to 1883)

Christie’s London, 10 July 1991, Lot 45

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