Lion-Headed Deity with Cobra Headdress

Detail of the right side of the throne

Detail of the left side of the throne

Detail of the back of the throne

Detail of the right side of the throne

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Lion-Headed Deity with Cobra Headdress, 664-525 BCE
, Statuette
7th-6th century BCE
Late Period, Dynasty 26
Creation Place: Egypt (Ancient)
Leaded bronze, gold inlay
53 cm h x 14 cm w x 26.7 cm d (20 7/8 x 5 1/2 x 10 1/2 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
, 1943.1121.A
Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art & Numismatics
1943.1121.A: Deity seated on a throne, both feet resting on a dais, and wearing the uraeus, but no crown (figure on left in image). Fur of mane and muzzle incised. Eyes inlaid with gold. Broadcloth incised. Chest is otherwise bare, deity wears an above-the-knee kilt. Both arms are bent at the elbow and the hands rest near the knees. Proper right hand is fisted, palm down, thumb extended. Proper left hand once held a staff (ankh) and is connected to the body with a support. The sides of the throne are incised with scenes enclosed with a geometric border. The piece is too damaged to make out the subjects of each scene. The scene incised on the proper right side of the throne includes an eye in the upper left corner of the field. Below the eye is a figure whose body is depicted frontally, but whose head, feet, and arms are turned to the right. The figure wears a tunic and skirt and holds aloft a bowl in both hands which s/he appears to extend toward the right. Unfortunately, the rest of the scene towards which the figure looks cannot be discerned. Below the figure, the bottom portion of the scene is covered by a repeated pattern of u-shaped incisions, of the sort often used to depict mountains. There are also scenes incised on the back of the throne and on the proper left side, but only bits of the geometric border can be discerned at present. Brown patina with bright green patches.

1943.1121.B: Seated lion-headed figure (Sekhmet) (figure on right in image). Figure wears ankle length garment, broadcloth, and Uraeus crown. The crown consists of an incised cylinder to which is attached a flat, double-humped rectangular piece. A sphere surrounded by a flaring u-shaped roll deocrates the front of this raised part of the crown. The head of a uraeus extends from the cylinder, below the raised portion. The fur of the mane and muzzle is incised. The eyes may once have been inlaid with gold, now missing. Naked torso. Both arms bent at the elbow and rest near knees. Proper right hand extended, palm down. Proper left hand once held some sort of staff (ankh) and is attached to thigh by a support. Incised on the back of the throne is the image of a hawk enclosed by a box which is demarkated by a border. Below the hawk in a separate box demarkated by a similar border is an incised scene of a lion-headed figure in profile kneeling within an arch. The figure's outstretched hands grasp either side of the arch. Figure balances a sphere atop head. The figure kneels on a platform indicated by an incised line which balances atop a diamond. There is another incised scene on the side panel to the left of the base. The field is divided into two boxes demarkated by the same border as in the previous scenes, the lower of which is filled with a narrow geometric design. In the upper box is an incised depiction of the lion-headed figure sitting in profile upon a lotus flower from which extend seven smaller blooms from each side of the flower. The effect of these flowers is a lotus flower boat in which the lion-headed figure rides. The figure again balances a sphere atop her head. There are a few hieroglyphs in the upper right field. A similar scene decorates the side panel to the right of the base. The scene is again divided into two boxes demarkated by the same border. The lower box includes the same narrow geometric design. The upper box depicts a lion-headed figure in profile sitting in a similar lotus-boat. This time the figure wears the crown of upper and lower Egypt on her head, not a sphere. There is a hieroglyph in the upper left field. Green patina. One of a pair.
Re-View Exhibition, Spring 2008, gallery label information:

Enthroned Lion-Headed Deities
Egyptian, Late Period, Dynasty 26, c. 664-525 BCE
Bronze, gold inlay
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop, 1943.1121.A-B

Bronze statuary was quite common in the ancient world. In Egypt, it reached new heights in the Third Intermediate period (c. 1070-664 BCE), when statues and statuettes were embellished with intricate inlays in precious metal or partly overlaid with gold. These two lion-headed deities may be assigned to the subsequent Saite period (c. 664-525 BCE). They served a votive purpose and might have contained sacrificed ichneumons (Egyptian mongooses). The female figure, identified by an inscription as the goddess Wadjet, wears a long dress and a crown composed of two tall feathers and a sun disk between cow horns; her throne is incised with a Horus-falcon and lion-headed figures. Most feline deities are female, but the other bronze, crowned by a cobra, is recognizable as male by the short kilt. The pierced hands of both statues once held attributes.
Ex collections Dourighello, W. Randolph Hearst, Grenville Lindall Winthrop.
Bought by Winthrop from Brummer Gallery, Inc. (NY) June 5, 1939 (Brummer inv. no. N4664).
Dows Dunham, "The Egyptian Antiquities", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum (1943), Vol. 10, No. 2, 40-43, p. 41, fig. 5.

Clifford Frondel, "On Paratacamite and Some Related Copper Chlorides", Mineralogical Magazine (1950), Vol. 42, 34-45

Clifford Frondel and Rutherford John Gettens, "Chalconatronite, a new Mineral from Egypt", Science (1955), Vol. 122, No. 3158, 75-76, p. 75.

Rutherford John Gettens and Clifford Frondel, "Chalconatronite: An Alteration Product on Some Ancient Egyptian Bronzes", Studies in Conservation (1955), Vol. 2, No. 2, 64-75, figs. 1a-b.

Jacques Vandier, "“Quadjet et l’Horus léontocéphale de Bouto"", Monuments et Memoires, Fondation Eugène Piot (1967), Vol. 255, 17-21, figs. 3b, 5.

Dorothy W. Gillerman, Gridley McKim-Smith and Joan R. Mertens, Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1969), p. 256 (checklist).

Rutherford John Gettens, "Patina: Noble and Vile", Art and Technology: a Symposium on Classical Bronzes, ed. Suzannah F. Doeringer, David Gordon Mitten and Arthur Steinberg, M.I.T. Press (Cambridge, MA, 1970), 57-68, p. 63.

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), p. 94, no. 102, ill.

Séan Hemingway and Julie Wolfe, "Art and Technology: The Study of Ancient Bronzes at the Harvard University Art Museums into the 21st Century", Proceedings of the XVth International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Amsterdam, July 12-17, 1998, ed. Ronald F. Docter and Charlotte Moormann, Allard Pierson Series (Amsterdam, 1999), 196-99, p. 197.

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/Handbook, exh. cat., ed. Stephan Wolohojian (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008)

Exhibition History
Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011
Ancient to Modern, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 06/01/2013
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