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AN EGYPTIAN BRONZE CAT
PROPERTY FROM A SWISS FAMILY COLLECTION
AN EGYPTIAN BRONZE CAT

PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, 304-30 B.C.

Details
AN EGYPTIAN BRONZE CAT
PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, 304-30 B.C.
Hollow cast, elegantly proportioned, with naturalistic details, depicted seated with its forepaws together, its tail curving forward around the proper right side, the head with alert erect ears, both pierced for attachment of now-missing earrings, the almond-shaped convex eyes with defined lids, the bridge of the nose ridged, the nostrils indented, with rectangular tenons below
13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm.) high
Provenance
Nubar Pasha Nubarian (b. 1825, Smyrna; d. 1899, Paris), Egyptian statesman in the last quarter of the 19th century, gifted to him by Viceroy Abbas II (1892-1914) and brought to Paris in 1895; thence by descent to the current owner, Switzerland.

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Molly Morse Limmer
Molly Morse Limmer

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Lot Essay

Cats came to be appreciated in ancient Egypt at least as early as the Middle Kingdom, likely for their mouse-hunting abilities. The earliest surviving three-dimensional depiction dates from that period and served as a cosmetic vessel (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 29 in Malek, The Cat in Ancient Egypt). By the New Kingdom, they had become household companions, as seen on tomb paintings and reliefs, sometimes seated under their master's chair or on board marsh boats, presumably serving to flush out birds for their masters. Cats became the sacred animal of the goddess Bastet, whose main cult center was at Bubastis in the eastern Delta. Mummified cats were dedicated to her and buried at her temples, often enclosed in containers of wood or bronze. The bronze examples range in size and quality but only rarely capture the majesty and dignity of the species as gracefully as the splendid lifesized example presented here. The style is typical of the Ptolemaic Period and compares favorably to another from Saqqara (also now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 45 in Arnold, An Egyptian Bestiary).

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