Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cosmetic Vessel in the Shape of a Cat

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12, early
ca. 1990–1900 B.C.
From Egypt
Travertine (Egyptian alabaster), copper, quartz crystal, paint
h. 14 (5 1/2 in.); l. 13.7 cm (5 3/8 in.); w. 6.2 cm (2 7/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1990
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111
The cat first appears in painting and relief at the end of the Old Kingdom, and this cosmetic jar is the earliest-known three-dimensional representation of the animal in Egyptian art. The sculptor demonstrates a keen understanding of the creature's physical traits, giving the animal the alert, tense look of a hunter rather than the elegant aloofness seen in later representations. The rock-crystal eyes, lined with copper, enhance the impression of readiness.
Purchased from Galerie Nefer, Zurich, 1990. Published in BMMA Fall 1990 and subsequently, continously exhibited.

Fay, Biri 1998. "Egyptian Duck Flasks of Blue Anhydrite." In Metropolitan Museum Journal, 33, p. 25, fig. 7.

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