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Home > Auctions > 5th December 2023 > Eastern Roman Bust of the Daughter of Aqima

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LOT 0136

Sold for (Inc. bp): £37,700

22 1/2 in. (78.2 kg total, 57 cm high including stand).

Modelled in the round with a fragment of stand to the rear; the figure carefully carved to exhibit the delicate facial features and elaborate hairstyle; the palla drawn up over the head and falling over the shoulders to the upper arms; a diadem to the brow with foliage and tendril detailing; elaborate earrings with dangles; necklace of fusiform and tubular beads and a longer one below with piriform plaques; large disc brooch to the left breast with dangles; peplos-style dress draped across the body beneath the palla; left arm bent and hand passing across the body to grasp the hem of the palla with a herringbone bracelet at the wrist; the palla displayed pinned with rosettes to the rear panel; with inscription of thirteen Palmyrene characters above the left shoulder 'NRW' // BRT // 'QM' // ḤBL' meaning 'daughter of Aqima'; traces of red and green pigment; mounted on a custom-made stand by Colin Bowles Ltd.

From a private American collection, acquired in the 1970s.
Ex Leon Simard, a Trustee to the National Museum of Canada, prior to 1986.
Acquired from Summer Gallery, 29 May 1986.
with Archaelogia Gallery, Canada, 1986 to present.

Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate number S00237794, dated 3 November 2023.
Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Raffaele D’Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by search certificate no.11825-207620.

Cf. Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Sztuka Palmyry (Art of Palmyra),Warszawa, 1986, pls.17,23; Fortin, M., Syrie, terre de civilisations, Québec, 1999, pp.298-299; Gabucci, A. (Ed.), Zenobia, il sogno di una regina d'oriente, Milano, 2002, no.99; Heyn, M.K., ‘Status and Stasis: Looking at Women in the Palmyrene Tomb,’ in Raja R. and Kropp, A. (eds.), World of Palmyra. Palmyrenske Studier, Copenhagen, 2016, pp.197-209, figs.2-3; see also similar bust of a Palmyrene noblewoman Aqmat ( inscribed: 'Aqmat daughter of Hagagu, descendant of Zebida, descendant of Ma'an. Alas!') now in the collection of the British Museum under accession number 102612.

The sculpture is a good example of 2nd-3rd century A.D. Palmyrene female funerary portrait types. The amount of jewellery displayed in these portraits could be a direct reflection of the wealth of the family, and certainly they reflected the jewellery possessed by the owner of the grave. Particularly important is the gesture of the raised hand: the evidence from several sanctuaries in the city corroborates the connection between this gesture and the female gender. There is no indication that the raised arm was associated with worship in the funerary sphere.