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Home > Auctions > 30th November 2021 > Egyptian Turquoise-Glazed Hippopotamus

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LOT 0007

GBP (£) 40,000 - 60,000
EUR (€) 47,040 - 70,560
USD ($) 53,280 - 79,920

Sold for (Inc. bp): £36,576

Egyptian Turquoise-Glazed Hippopotamus

Late Middle Kingdom-Second Intermediate Period, 1803-1550 BC

A faience hippopotamus figurine, the turquoise-glazed plump body adorned by painted black design representing Nilotic plants and hunting nets arranged in an X-motif across the back, a lotus flower emanating from the short 'v' shaped tail, the motifs reflecting the creatures' habitat; a lotus flower to the head flanked by small pricked ears outlined in black, the left eye painted in black with a large pupil; accompanied by a custom-made collector's box. 338 grams (1.1 kg including box), 12.5cm (4 3/4"). Fine condition, restoration to the head and neck. Rare.

Property of a London gentleman; before that in the private collection of a Kensington collector; with Bonhams, New Bond Street, London, 6 October 2010, lot 13 (£80,000-£120,000); previously in the collection of Mrs Petra Schamelman, Breitenbach, Germany; acquired from the collection of Fernand Adda, formed in the 1920s-1930s; accompanied by an academic report by Dr Alberto Maria Pollastrini and a copy of a positive thermoluminescence analysis report, sample no. N208b26, from Oxford Authentication and copies of the relevant Bonhams catalogue pages; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10875-181052. The Adda family, originally from Alexandria, formed the majority of their collection in the 1920s-1930s. Abraham Adda (b. circa 1855) had three sons, Victor (b. circa 1885-1965) a collector of coins, Iznik and ancient Egyptian objects; Fernand, a collector of Iznik ceramics, and Joseph. The collection has been situated in Europe since before the Second World War.

See Germond, P., Livet, J., Bestiaro Egizio, Florence, 2001, p.172; Guichard, H. (ed.), Des Animaux et des Pharaons. Le Regne Animal Dans L'Egypte Ancienne, Paris, 2014, p.77; Miniaci, G., Quirke, S., Reconceiving the Tomb in the Late Middle Kingdom. The Burial of the Accountant of the Main Enclosure Neferhotep At Dra Abu Al-Naga, Bifao 109 (2010), pp.346-348, 370-371, fig.4, 15A-B; see D'Auria, S. et al, Mummies and Magic, the funerary arts of ancient Egypt, Boston, 1988, p.127, no.58, for discussion.

The hippopotamus statuette analysed here belongs to a well-known typology of funerary figurines found in late Middle Kingdom/Second Intermediate Period burials across the whole of Egypt. Their symbolic meaning is twofold: on one hand, this big semiaquatic mammal represents the sun rising from the primordial waters, on the other the female hippopotamus is generally associated with Taweret, a goddess
connected with fecundity and birth. Therefore, hippopotamus statuettes such as this one were placed in tombs to aid the rebirth of the deceased into the afterlife. Such figures may have been ritually broken to control the dangerous aspect of the hippopotamus.