Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Torso of a Ptolemaic King, inscribed with cartouches of a late Ptolemy

Ptolemaic Period
80–30 B.C.
From Egypt
H. 93 cm (36 5/8 in); w. 31 cm (12 3/16 in); d. 25 cm (9 13/16 in)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift and Rogers Fund, 1981
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 137
The names preserved on this fine torso are probably those of either Ptolemy XII or Ptolemy XV. In its waning years the Ptolemaic Dynasty was struggling for stability and was increasingly dependent on Rome. As though seeking to transcend the difficulties of the period, Ptolemy XII took the title Neos Dionysus, “the New Dionysus/ Osiris.” A number of sculptures exist depicting him as an emphatically youthful figure. The best alternative candidate, Ptolemy XV, also known as Caesarion, was the short-lived son of Cleopatra VII and Julius Caesar.
Purchased from Peter Sharrer Ancient Art, New York, 1981. Published MMA Notable Acquisitions 1981-82 and subsequently, continuously exhibited.

Hill, Marsha 2000. "Roman Egypt." In The Year One: Art of the Ancient World East and West, edited by Elizabeth J. Milleker. New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 86, figs. 64–5, p. 207.

Stanwick, Paul 2002. Portraits of the Ptolemies: Greek Kings as Egyptian Pharaohs. Austin, cat. 36, 39, 46, 60, 61, 123.

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