• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12256

    Antiquities

    12 April 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 114

    AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE RELIEF

    OLD KINGDOM, 4TH-5TH DYNASTY, 2613-2435 B.C.

    Estimate

    AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE RELIEF
    OLD KINGDOM, 4TH-5TH DYNASTY, 2613-2435 B.C.
    Sculpted in raised relief, depicting three figures in profile to the right hunting on a boat in the marshes, with a woman kneeling on a cushion, framed by her husband’s legs in larger scale, and their son standing in front, the woman wearing a striated tripartite wig, her eye, mouth and ear finely rendered, richly adorned with a broad collar and a choker, wearing a fitted dress with long straps leaving her breast visible, her left arm bent at the elbow, holding a lotus flower, her right arm tenderly embracing her husband’s right leg, their son standing on the prow, nude, both arms outstretched, the background with vertical striation depicting the high papyrus and lotus reeds of the marshes, traces of red pigment preserved on the male figures
    16 1/8 in. (40 cm.) high


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    This fragment is part of an important ritual scene in Egyptian funerary beliefs, where the deceased and his family are shown hunting and fishing in the marshes on a small boat made of papyrus held together with three characteristic bands as shown in the present example. The man is represented in a larger scale, protecting his wife who, in turn, holds his leg to help him keep his balance. The complete scene is originally a mirrored composition; they are hunting waterfowl on the left half, and harpooning fish on the right.

    Contrary to the numerous representations of real life activities found on wall decoration, this scene bears a heavy symbolic meaning and conveys multiple ideas. Fertile marshes were seen as a place of eroticism and rebirth. Both husband and wife are participating together in this physical activity, showing strength and support, but wearing their finest linen clothes, adornments and jewelry, which is unexpected for an outdoor activity, unless the purpose is seduction.

    It is interesting to note that this representation would be part of the decoration of the chapel, the tomb’s upper level, accessible to family and priests to bring gifts and offerings. In expressing his wish to be reborn after death and live eternally, the unknown deceased also wanted his family to be remembered as healthy and united.

    Provenance

    Ian Woodner (1903-1990), New York, acquired prior to 1969.


    Saleroom Notice

    This Lot is Withdrawn.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A NEW YORK PRIVATE COLLECTION