Egyptian Granite Head Sold At Christie's

Published on September 8, 2011 by Phoenix in Aboutaam, Phoenix Ancient Art

Egyptian Granite HeadIn recent news in the antiquities world, Christie’s sold a stunning Egyptian Granite Head of an Official, recently handled by Phoenix Ancient Art, for $422,500.  This head represents a courtier and dates from the New Kingdom, Late Dynasty XVIII, circa 1400-1390 B.C.

The courtier wears a double wig: the upper tier, with the locks engraved in deep linear incisions, covers the head like a thick skullcap; on the forehead, the wig forms a horizontal line that falls diagonally from the temples to the shoulders, hiding the upper half of the ears.

The absence of attributes or other royal divine elements indicate that this man was a private individual, probably an Egyptian high dignitary.

An original from the reign of Thutmose IV or early Amenhotep III, the statue’s most distinguished feature for dating purposes are the eyebrows.  The straight eyebrows, the hairstyle, the eye shape, and the articulated upper lid all date the piece to this exact time period.  A few details point to work done on the piece during the Ramesside period; the shape of the mouth may have been slightly altered at this time and the ears may also have been pierced during that period.

The granite head stands 17.1 cm high. It was with Monbrison, Paris, before becoming part of the Wertheimer Collection, Paris, in the 1960s. Then it resurfaced at Christie’s New York in December 2001.  The Merrin Gallery published it in 2002 when it was acquired by a US private collection in the same year.  In 2007 the head was exhibited at Phoenix Ancient Art and published in catalogue 1, no. 29.