Probably from the Royal Cemeteries, Saqqara.
Acquired by Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton (1790-1851), in Egypt between December 1849 and April 1850.
Presented to the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery by either Charles Douglas-Compton, 3rd Marquess of Northampton (1816-1877) or Admiral William Compton, 4th Marquess of Northampton (1818-1897).
T. G. H. James, “The Northampton statue of Sekhemka”, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 49, 1963, p. 5–12.
C. Aldred, Egypt to the End of the Old Kingdom, Norwich, 1965, p. 122–123, fig. 124.
C. Noblecourt & J. Yoyotte, Treasures of the Pharaohs, Geneva, 1968, col. pl. p. 35.
E. Swan Hall, “Some Ancient Egyptian Sculptures in British Collections”, Apollo Magazine, LXXXVII, March 1968, p. 165–169, fig. 11.
B. Porter and R. L. B. Moss, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings, Vol. III: Memphis, Part 2: Saqqara to Dahshur, Oxford, 1973, p. 730.
M. Fitzenreiter, “Statue und kult”, Internet-Beitraege sur Aegyptologie und Sudanarchaeologie 3, Berlin, 2001.
SEKHEMKA: STRONG OF SOUL
A GENTLEMAN'S TASTE - THE HISTORY OF THE COLLECTION
The Northampton family made significant contributions to British intellectual life in the 19th century. As well as being part of numerous scientific associations, the family were important patrons of the arts. Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton (1790-1851), was president of the Royal Society, the Geological Society, a founding member and president of the Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, president of the Royal Society of Literature, a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and a Trustee of the British Museum.
He travelled extensively in Europe, but waited until later in life to embark on a journey to the mysterious Nile Valley. He was accompanied by his daughter Marian, her husband John Egerton, Viscount Alford, their two children, and his own youngest son and daughter, Alwyne and Margaret. The family departed London on the 9th of October 1849, and visited Paris, where their permit to pass into Egypt was authorised. They continued on to Marseille and Malta, before reaching Egypt.
Spencer Compton arrived in Alexandria early in December 1849, equipped with a sketchbook which he used to document his Egyptian adventures. Alwyne followed his father, recording their journey through a series of watercolours (both sketchbooks are kept at Castle Ashby, the Northampton family seat). From here the 2nd Marquess travelled upstream to Aswan, visiting important sites such as the Valley of the Kings and the temple of Karnak at Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and the temple of Philae. Before returning to Alexandria in April 1850, the family spent time in Cairo, and visited the pyramids of Giza. They may have met another famous traveller visiting Egypt at the same time: Gustave Flaubert, who, along with Maxime Du Camp, was capturing Egypt on film for the first time with his Calotype camera.
During his travels, the Marquess became enamoured with several ancient artefacts, which he acquired and sent on to the British Museum, as documented in a letter dating to the 5th of April 1850 to Samuel Birch, keeper of the British Museum. On his return to England in 1850, and having been inspired no doubt by all he had experienced in Egypt, the Marquess presided over the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of Oxford between the 18th and 25th of June 1850. He died seven months later in January 1851, whereupon his son, Charles Douglas-Compton, succeeded him as 3rd Marquess of Northampton.
The Northampton family was intimately involved with the Northampton museum from its founding, as evidenced by a report of the meeting of the Committee of the Northampton Museum of the 11th December 1865, which records Alwyne Compton, the son who accompanied the 2nd Marquess to Egypt, as chairman. In 1866, a first group of Egyptian antiquities was loaned by the family to the museum, with more following in subsequent years. It is likely that the statue of Sekhemka was gifted to the museum in the 1880s. In 1899 the newly opened Abington Museum created an Egyptian room to present the Borough's collection of antiquities, including the statue of Sekhemka, where it remained until the 1950s. In 1960, the collection moved to Northampton Central Museum, where Sekhemka was included in the exhibitions “Ancient Egypt – Land of Mystery”, in summer 1977, “Mummies and Megaliths – the Bronze Age in Egypt and Britain” in 1983 and “Ancient Egypt – the Northampton Collection” in 1988.
The Northampton Museum, Northampton, general exhibition, 1866–1899.
The Abington Museum, Northampton, Egyptian room, 1899–1950s.
General exhibition, Northampton Central Museum, Northampton, from 1960.
The Abington Museum, Northampton, Ancient Egypt – Land of Mystery, 1977.
Northampton Central Museum and Art Gallery, Northampton, Mummies and Megaliths – the Bronze Age in Britain and Egypt, 1983.
Northampton Central Museum and Art Gallery, Northampton, Ancient Egypt: The Northampton Collection, 1988.
General exhibition, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, Northampton, 2001-2012.