• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12257

    Antiquities

    25 October 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 9

    AN EGYPTIAN BRONZE CAT

    PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, 332-30 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EGYPTIAN BRONZE CAT
    PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, 332-30 B.C.
    5 ¾ in. (14.6 cm.) high


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    Cats came to be appreciated in ancient Egypt at least as early as the Middle Kingdom, likely for their mouse-hunting abilities. The earliest surviving three-dimensional depiction dates from that period and served as a cosmetic vessel (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 29 in J. Malek, The Cat in Ancient Egypt). By the New Kingdom, they had become household companions, as seen on tomb paintings and reliefs, sometimes seated under their master's chair or on board marsh boats, presumably serving to flush out birds for their masters. Cats became the sacred animal of the goddess Bastet, whose main cult center was at Bubastis in the eastern Delta. Mummified cats were dedicated to her and buried at her temples, often enclosed in containers of wood or bronze.

    This cat wears a collar with a wadjet-eye pectoral. A scarab beetle is incised atop its head. The gold earring is later and dates to the Roman period, around the 1st-2nd century A.D.

    Provenance

    with Elie A. Abemayor, Cairo.
    Caroline Ransom Williams (1872-1952), Toledo, acquired from the above on behalf of Henry W. Wilhelm, Ohio, 1927 (Accession no. 1927.143).


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE ACQUISITIONS FUND


    Literature

    K.T. Luckner, "The Art of Egypt, Part 2," The Toledo Museum of Art Museum News, new series, Vol. 14, no. 3, Fall 1971, p. 75, fig. 15.


    Exhibited

    The Toledo Museum of Art, Hands on Egypt, 18 September 1998-31 August 2000.
    The Toledo Museum of Art, The Egypt Experience: Secrets of the Tomb, 29 October, 2010-8 January 2012.