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Home > Auctions > 4th June 2024 > Egyptian Limestone Female Bust

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LOT 0063

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 9,390 - 11,740
USD ($) 10,190 - 12,740

Opening Bid
£4,000 (EUR 4,696; USD 5,097) (‡+bp*)

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Bids: 0
10 5/8 x 7 3/4 in. (6.77 kg, 27 x 19.5 cm).

Modelled in the half-round on a flat background as a bust of a woman with stern expression, dressed in a tunic emphasising the rounded shape of the bosom, and a mantle worn on the shoulders descending to the arms; beaded collar to the chest and detailed head-covering; significant remains of polychrome (red, black, and traces of blue) on the face, clothing and hair; mounted on a custom-made display stand.

From the collection of Nicolas Koutoulakis, Paris-Geneva, 1967.
Ex Barbier-Mueller, Geneva, Switzerland.
with Boisgirad, Arts D'Orient, 16 November 2007, no.88.
Acquired on the French art market in 2007.
European private collection.

Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Raffaele D’Amato.
Accompanied by copies of the relevant Boisgirad, Arts D'Orient catalogue pages.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by a search certificate number no.12065-218189.

Cf. stela of noblewomen from Oxyrincus, in MFA Boston, accession no.1972.875; the Brooklyn Museum, accession number 70.132; the Harvard Art Museum, no.1977.197; the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels, E.08239; see also Schneider, H.D., ‘Four Romano-Egyptian Tomb-Reliefs from el Behnasa, Egypt’ in Bulletin Antieke Beschaving: Annual Papers on Classical Archaeology, 50, 1975, pp.9-12, plates 12-16, for a series of funerary stelae in the same style.

The base, back and sides are flat and rough-hewn: it is possible that it served as a funerary stele, perhaps placed as a “lid” of a niche or a loculus. The Egyptian stelae and statues found at the site of Oxyrhynchos (present-day Benhasa) provide the best parallels for the style that characterises this image. These are most often funerary works showing men, women or children (stelae in very high-relief and statues) which are still little known - and even the chronology of which is subject of discussion: current opinion one inclines towards an earlier dating, between the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D., rather than the Coptic period which was previously favoured. In fact these figures, which are devoid of the attributes linked to Christian iconography, generally hold or carry objects which relate to "classical" cults (ie. Isis). Despite a certain naivety of the work, typical of Egyptian sculptures from this region, the woman depicted on this stele certainly belonged to the high contemporary nobility as is evidenced by the richness of her well-pleated clothing and the abundance of adornment, comprising a large necklace with two rows of pearls and some brooches; likewise, the hairstyle, organised in small curls and spiral locks, is worthy of a high-ranking personage.