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AN EGYPTIAN COLOSSAL QUARTZITE HEAD OF THE PHARAOH NECTANEBO II
AN EGYPTIAN COLOSSAL QUARTZITE HEAD OF THE PHARAOH NECTANEBO II

LATE PERIOD, DYNASTY XXX, REIGN OF NECTANEBO II, 360-343 B.C.

Details
AN EGYPTIAN COLOSSAL QUARTZITE HEAD OF THE PHARAOH NECTANEBO II
LATE PERIOD, DYNASTY XXX, REIGN OF NECTANEBO II, 360-343 B.C.
Wearing a plain nemes-headcloth with a banded border across the forehead and a broad tab in front of the ear, adorned with a uraeus formed into a symmetrical single loop, the tail rising up over the crown of the head, the preserved eye narrow and slanted slightly forward, the lower lid sharp, the upper lid raised and outlined by a shallow groove, its outer corner extending beyond the lower lid, the tear duct angled down and curving out slightly at the base of the bridge of the nose, the thin brow straight and lightly outlined, the ear well modelled
16½ in. (41.9 cm.) high
Provenance
Collected by Gustave Jéquier (1868-1946).

Lot Essay

Nectanebo II (Nakhthoreb), reign 360-343 B.C., was the last native pharaoh of ancient Egypt. He was a dynamic ruler whose reign of nearly two decades has been justly characterized as a renaissance in art and learning. Nectanebo II commissioned the erection and restoration of monumental temples throughout the land, including the multi-storied shrine to Isis, built of Aswan granite in the Delta at Iseion. Although he was forced to flee to Nubia in the wake of the Persian invasion, later generations remembered Nectanebo II in flattering terms. In the romantic history of Alexander the Great written by Pseudo-Callisthenes during the Roman Imperial Period, Nectanebo II appears in Macedonia as an itinerant magician-priest whose powers, on behalf of the Egyptian state god Amun, engender Olympias with the future Alexander the Great.
Other than the greywacke statue of Nectanebo II, which depicts the king in small scale standing before the falcon god Horus, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see pl. 3d in Josephson, Egyptian Royal Sculpture of the Late Period, 400-246 B.C.), no other inscribed statues are known that preserve the face (there is a headless granite statue in Cairo, p. 136 in Daressy, "Débris de statue de Nectanebo II" in Annales du Service des Antiquités de l'Egypte, 19). Several portraits have been attributed to him, all showing Nectanebo II wearing the Blue Crown, including a quartzite head in the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, a basalt head in Alexandria, and a granite head recently acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (see plates 10a-b in Josephson, op. cit.). The Jéquier portrait, despite the condition, can also be attributed to Nectanebo II through comparison of the treatment of the surviving eye to those of the UPenn, Cairo and Boston heads. This exhibits a curvilinear contour at what was originally the juncture of the straight raised relief brow with the root of the nose. Also typical is the narrow distance between the upper eye lid and the bottom edge of the brow.

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