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Head of an Egyptian Official

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
During the Ptolemaic Period (332–30 B.C.), when Egypt was ruled by a family of Greek descent named Ptolemy, large numbers of Greeks moved to Egypt, where many served as government officials. We cannot know, therefore, whether this striking head, from an over-life-size statue, represented a Greek or a native Egyptian, especially since its striking features are a blend of Egyptian and Greek styles. The short curls, for example, are a simplified rendering of a Greek hairdo, and the large, deep-set eyes derive from images of Alexander the Great. But the facial modeling, with its folds and furrows, has many precedents in Egyptian art, as does the narrow, sharply outlined mouth. We may see here the beginning of a mixed Greco-Egyptian style, which was soon to disappear when the Romans conquered Egypt.
MEDIUM Diorite
  • Possible Place Made: Mitrahina, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 50 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 16 5/16 x 11 1/4 x 13 7/8 in. (41.4 x 28.5 x 35.2 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Head of an Egyptian Official, ca. 50 B.C.E. Diorite, 16 5/16 x 11 1/4 x 13 7/8 in. (41.4 x 28.5 x 35.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 58.30. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE front, 58.30_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Over life-size diorite (black) head of a man broken from standing statute. Individual face with deep upper eyelids, thin lips, square chin and shallow furrows running from nose. Hair arranged in curls with strands hanging down in front of each ear. Flesh areas polished, hair mat. Rear pillar (mat) with pyramidal top and beginning of a scene of deities. Condition: Major part of nose lost, break extends into upper lip. Otherwise intact. Preserved to base of neck.
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