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    Sale 12256

    Antiquities

    12 April 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 116

    AN IMPORTANT EGYPTIAN WOOD FIGURE OF A LADY

    MIDDLE KINGDOM, EARLY 12TH DYNASTY, CIRCA 1981-1802 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN IMPORTANT EGYPTIAN WOOD FIGURE OF A LADY
    MIDDLE KINGDOM, EARLY 12TH DYNASTY, CIRCA 1981-1802 B.C.
    Superbly sculpted, depicted standing with her feet together, the separately-made arms at her side and pinned in place with wood dowels, her long delicate fingers with white-painted nails, wearing a tightly-fitted sheath dress, revealing the form of her body beneath, with straps covering her breasts, ornamented with elaborate bracelets and anklets, her triangular face with inlaid eyes of white and black stone, presumably alabaster and obsidian, framed in copper, with a slender nose, a slightly-smiling mouth and a pointed chin, with a voluminous, striated, tripartite wig, painted black, on a deep integral plinth pinned in place into the rectangular base, the base painted red over white, with a black-painted hieroglyphic inscription, the Hetep-di nesu formula, partially preserved, reading "An invocation of bread and beer, oxen and fowl, for the Ka of ...hetep, justified"
    10 ¾ in. (27.3 cm.) high


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    This figure of Lady ...hetep is of superb quality and condition, the figure sculpted from exotic hard wood and pinned into a base of softer wood. She is depicted with a narrow torso, a wasp waist and long swelling thighs which represented the ideal of feminine beauty in the Middle Kingdom. According to J.D. Cooney (in O.W. Muscarella, op. cit., p. 181) "it is tempting to consider this lady as the wife of Seneb (another wood figure from the Schimmel collection with the same provenance). Certainly the inscriptions on the two sculptures are by the same hand, but this facet may indicate nothing more than an origin in the same shop." The inscription confirms that the figure served as a ka statue for Lady ...hetep. The ka was considered an aspect of the personality or life force of an individual that lived on after death. The ka statue served as a surrogate for the deceased and could receive offerings. They were typically placed either in an offering chapel or a tomb, or even inside a coffin, a practice which began in the late Old Kingdom. For related wood figures see the example now in Hildesheim see no. 186 in A. Oppenheim, ed., et al., Ancient Egypt Transformed, The Middle Kingdom, and one in the British Museum, no. 40 in E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt, Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum.

    Provenance

    Said to be excavated by Émile Gaston Chassinat (1868-1948) at Deir el-Durunka, south of Assiut.
    Omar Pacha Sultan, Cairo.
    Collection de Feu Omar Pacha Sultan Le Caire, Paris, 1929, no. 225, pl. XXXVII.
    Norbert Schimmel (1905-1990), New York.
    Important Antiquities from the Norbert Schimmel Collection; Sotheby’s, New York, 16 December 1992, lot 97.
    William B. Dietrich, Philadelphia, acquired from the above; thence by descent to the current owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF DANIEL W. DIETRICH II


    Literature

    O.W. Muscarella, ed., Ancient Art: The Norbert Schimmel Collection, Mainz, 1974, no. 181.
    J. Settgast, et al., Von Troja bis Amarna, The Norbert Schimmel Collection, New York, Mainz, 1978, no. 195.


    Exhibited

    New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and elsewhere, Ancient Art: The Norbert Schimmel Collection, 1974-1977.
    Berlin, Ägyptischen Museum, and elsewhere, Von Troja bis Amarna, The Norbert Schimmel Collection, 1978-1979.