• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2007

    Antiquities

    4 June 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 51

    AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE PORTRAIT HEAD OF PTOLEMY II

    REIGN OF PTOLEMY II, 286-246 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE PORTRAIT HEAD OF PTOLEMY II
    REIGN OF PTOLEMY II, 286-246 B.C.
    The oval face with youthful idealizing features including fleshy lips drawn into a smile, a pointed chin and softly-modelled brows, the narrow almond-shaped eyes convex, with sharply-outlined lids, wearing an unstriated nemes-headcloth fronted by a uraeus, preserving traces of grid-lines at the back
    7¾ in. (19.7 cm.) high


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    The facial features including the almond-shaped eyes with slightly downturned tear ducts, straight eyebrows curved down at the sides, and ear shape, can be compared to several portraits of Ptolemy II. See, for example, an alabaster portrait in the British Museum (no. 5 in Walker and Higgs, Cleopatra of Egypt, from History to Myth), a lifesized granodiorite statue in the Vatican (fig. 20 in Bianchi, et al., Cleopatra's Egypt, Age of the Ptolemies), a bronze bust in Cairo (no. 7, p. 159 in Stanwick, Portraits of the Ptolemies, Greek Kings as Egyptian Pharaohs), and a limestone head in Paris (no. 126 in Grimes, et al., La Gloire d'Alexandrie). Also of note are the placement of the uraeus, partially covering the browband, and the symmetrical uraeus loops.

    Incised grid marks on the left back side of the nemes suggest that this portrait head may have served as a sculptor's model. It is unusual for sculptor's models, however, to be finished in the round.

    Provenance

    Rustafjael Collection (1876-1943).
    Sotheby's, London, 20 January 1913, lot 242.
    Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959).
    Signor Carlo Monzino; Sotheby's, London, 10 July 1979, lot 100.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A MIDWESTERN COLLECTOR


    Literature

    The Epstein Collection of Tribal and Exotic Sculpture, The Arts Council of Great Britain, London, 1960, no. 297.