Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Bust of a royal figure with downward-hanging snake

Late Period–Ptolemaic Period
400–200 B.C.
From Egypt
H. 13.4 cm (5 1/4 in.); W. 10.7 cm (4 3/16 in.); D. 5.9 cm (2 5/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1907
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
Small Late Period and Ptolemaic reliefs or sculptures that depict a subject in a partial or unfinished way but are themselves finished objects constitute a special class of object. Guidelines purporting to be for artists are often prominently exhibited as part of the object, although, in fact, many instances can be noted where the object simply could not serve as a suitable model for a traditional formal Egyptian representation. Personifications of kingship, figures that may represent the now emerging demigods Imhotep and Amenhotep Son of Hapu, and popular gods like Harpokrates or Isis, are heavily represented within the corpus.

These nature of these figures and other features indicate the reliefs and sculptures of this class, sometimes called by Egyptologists “sculptor’s models / votives,” were the material for a donation practice, perhaps connected with the prolific temple building of these centuries. Unfortunately there is little to illuminate us about the mechanics of such a donation practice.

In this example, the king displays a variant uraeus - the snake's head hangs downward over the forehead rather than rising - often seen on the royal personifications among this group of objects.
Purchased in Egypt from Panayotis Kitycas, 1907. Formerly Timmins Collection.

Lythgoe, Albert M. 1907. "Recent Egyptian Acquisitions." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 12 (December), p. 195–196, fig. 4.

Young, Eric 1964. "Sculptors' Models or Votives?: In Defense of a Scholarly Tradition." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 22, no. 7 (March), pp. 253–254, fig. 11.

Hostens-Deleu, Ria 1979. Beeldhouwersmodellen in de Egyptische afdeling van de Koninklijke Musea voor kunst en Geschiedenis. Brussels, p. 15.

Hill, Marsha 2009. Sitting Beside Lepsius: Studies in Honour of Jaromir Malek at the Griffith Institute, 185. Orientalia Lovaniensia analecta, Leuven: Peeters Publishers, p. 250.

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