• Antiquities  auction at Christies

    Sale 2232

    Antiquities

    11 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 124

    A GREEK MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF A QUEEN

    PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.

    Price Realised  

    A GREEK MARBLE PORTRAIT HEAD OF A QUEEN
    PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C.
    Possibly Cleopatra VII, depicted as a young woman, her head turned slightly to her right, with an oval face, traces of a mole on her left cheek, her convex lidded eyes beneath modelled brows, her small mouth with protruding lips pursed into a slight smile, the chin rounded, the hair bound in a broad diadem, with ringlets below the diadem along the forehead and covering the upper half of both ears, the top and back of the head summarily sculpted, perhaps for completion in plaster, a small drilled mortice at the crown for insertion of an attribute, traces of a small top knot at the front of her diadem
    12¼ in. (31.1 cm.) high


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    This head recalls the portrait identified as Cleopatra VII that was found at the Villa of the Quintilii, Rome, in 1784, and is now in the Vatican. Like the Vatican Cleopatra, the present head shares the oval face with a youthful countenance, wide open eyes and a short mouth. With the present head, the hair was either re-worked in antiquity, or was originally finished in supplementary material, which is typical for Ptolemaic statuary in marble. It is clear that she originally wore a broad royal diadem, and remains of a lump are preserved at the front of the head that may have been a knotted lock of hair. A drilled mortice at the top of the head was likely for insertion of an additional attribute, such as an Isis crown. For the Vatican Cleopatra see p. 218 in Walker and Higgs, Cleopatra of Egypt.

    Provenance

    Mentezan Family Collection, Belgium, 1972.