• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12257

    Antiquities

    25 October 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 38

    AN EGYPTIAN RED GLASS ROYAL HEAD FROM A COMPOSITE STATUE

    NEW KINGDOM, 18TH DYNASTY, AMARNA PERIOD, CIRCA 1352-1336 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EGYPTIAN RED GLASS ROYAL HEAD FROM A COMPOSITE STATUE
    NEW KINGDOM, 18TH DYNASTY, AMARNA PERIOD, CIRCA 1352-1336 B.C.
    5/8 in. (1.6 cm.) high


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    Miniature glass sculptures were produced in Egypt predominantly during the late 18th Dynasty through the early 19th Dynasty. Related red glass heads are known, although not as refined as the example presented here, two of which preserve their original wig fashioned from wood (no. 1784 in J.D. Cooney, Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum, Vol. 4, Glass and no. 10 in E.M. Stern and B. Schlick-Nolte, Early Glass of the Ancient World, 1600 B.C.-A.D. 50, Ernesto Wolf Collection).

    Composite statuary in stone was a common feature of the art from the Amarna period. The separately-made head would have been set into a body and surmounted by a headdress or crown, all made of different stones. See for example the exquisite brown quartzite head of Nefertiti now in Berlin (no. 43 in R.E. Freed, et al., Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen) as well as an unfinished limestone head of her, also in Berlin (no. 44 in Freed, op. cit.). This red glass head is strongly reminiscent of the Berlin Nefertiti heads in that they all share the exaggerated beauty lines of the long neck, the sloping forehead, the prominent ears sticking out from the crown or headdress, the pronounced piercings of the earlobes, shown as shallow indentations, and the vertical lines descending from the corners of the mouth. The red color of the present example would normally indicate a man, however female portrayals from the Amarna period, Nefertiti in particular, were often shown with a red complexion.

    The head presented here was cast face down in an open one-piece mold. Copper was the agent used to give it the beautiful opaque red color, in imitation of carnelian or red jasper, although some small areas have weathered over time to green.

    While it is impossible to know for sure, the similarities in facial features and the form of the head strongly suggest that this impressive miniature glass head may have come from a composition statue of Nefertiti, perhaps wearing her blue platform crown.

    Provenance

    Jean-François Champollion (1790-1832), Egyptologist, France; thence by descent to his nephew , Pierre-Jules Isidore Champollion; thence by descent to his daughter, Alice-Louise Champollion, who later married Léon de la Brière; thence by descent.
    Works of Art, Sadde, Dijon, France, 11 February 2015, lot 1.