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AN EGYPTIAN BASALT FALCON
AN EGYPTIAN BASALT FALCON
AN EGYPTIAN BASALT FALCON
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AN EGYPTIAN BASALT FALCON
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THE VÉRITÉ FALCONPROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
AN EGYPTIAN BASALT FALCON

LATE PERIOD, 30TH DYNASTY, REIGN OF NECTANEBO II TO PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, 380-30 B.C.

Details
AN EGYPTIAN BASALT FALCON
LATE PERIOD, 30TH DYNASTY, REIGN OF NECTANEBO II TO PTOLEMAIC PERIOD, 380-30 B.C.
20 ¼ in. (51.4 cm.) high
Provenance
Pierre (1900-1993) and Claude (1928-2018) Vérité, Paris, acquired between 1930-1960.
Archéologie: Collection Pierre et Claude Vérité, Christie’s, Paris, 20 December 2011, lot 203.
Literature
P. Vérité, ed., La Méditerranée berceau de l'Europe, Montbéliard, 1971, no. 40.
Exhibited
Montbéliard, Maison des Arts et Loisirs de Montbéliard, La Méditerranée berceau de l'Europe, 6 November-15 December 1971.

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Lot Essay


Powerfully sculpted in the hieroglyphic form of the Horus falcon, this statue stands out both for the refinement of its volumes and the robustness of modeling of its head, wings, and feet. Especially striking is the curve of the top of the powerful wings, as well as the trapezoidal crossed wing tips behind. A square mortise on the top of the head was most likely intended to receive the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt in bronze, gold or another material. The distinctive falcon’s eye markings were sharply recessed to receive inlays (perhaps in stone or glass), in a manner that is closely paralleled in examples depicting Nectanebo II, the last native ruler of Egypt prior to Ptolemaic rule (compare significantly Louvre E 11152 and Cairo JE 32262 still preserving the inlaid eye; see Yoyotte, "Nectanéno II comme faucon divin?" mi 15, pp. 70-74)

Nectanebo’s association with Horus was considerable; he was styled “the divine falcon, issue of Isis,” and is represented at the feet of a giant Horus falcon in numerous statues, most similar in size and material to this example. The cult of these composite statues, each termed “Nectanebo-the-Falcon,” seems to have been substantial, with full or partial examples known from a number of sites including Heliopolis, Tanis, and Buto, and fragments have recently been discovered in a temple context at Behbeit el Hagar in the Delta. The strong similarity of this falcon in form and finish in comparison to the Cairo and Paris “Nectanebo-the-Falcon,” with similarly inlaid eyes and eye markings, suggests that it might well belong to this ruler’s reign. Other instances are known in which a similarly powerfully modeled falcon statue lacks the figure of a ruler between its legs (compare especially Art Institute of Chicago 2002.632, dated to the Ptolemaic era; Casagrande-kim, ed., "When the Greeks Ruled Egypt," exhibition catalouge, no. 107).

Since the Cult of "Nectanebo-the-Falcon" is known to have continued into the Ptolemaic period (see Gorre, " 'Nectanébo-le-faucon' et la dynastie Lagide," Ancient Society 39, pp. 55-69), a date in the succeeding Ptolemaic era may not be excluded; an example in London (British Museum EA 1226; see Porter and Moss, Vol. V, p. 131) is missing the distinctive falcon’s eye markings, but is similar in form and power. Additional examples of falcon statues on this scale and in this style have also been found in Italy, including at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, as well as in the precinct devoted to the cult of Isis at Benevento, most likely in secondary contexts. An example of a Horus falcon statue in Chicago (Oriental Institute Museum; Bailluel-LeSuer, ed., Between Heaven and Earth: Birds in Ancient Egypt, p. 178) has interior hollows carved out perhaps suggesting that some falcon statues were used to provide spoken oracles, a practice documented in later phases of Pharaonic civilization.

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