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Relief of Ptolemy II Philadelphos

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor

Although the Ptolemaic Period ushered in a long period of foreign rule, the Macedonian kings of that dynasty did not interfere with the Egyptian artistic traditions of the preceding three milennia. Ptolemy II Philadelphos, like his father Ptolemy I Soter, the founder of the dynasty, continued the practice of building and decorating temples in traditional Egyptian fashion.

While this is not to say that the Macedonian rulers did not have Greek artists portray them according to Greek artistic conventions, here the Greek ruler is shown in a purely Egyptian guise, wearing the traditional nemes-headdress of the pharaoh. The style of the relief, including the deeply cut navel, the horizontal treatment of the torso muscles, the "golf ball" chin, and the upturned smile, is common in representations from Dynasties XXIX and XXX (circa 399–342 B.C.) and was readily adopted by the Ptolemies into their iconographic program. Visible behind the king is the figure of a goddess in another scene.

MEDIUM Granite
DATES 285 or 282–246 B.C.E.
PERIOD Ptolemaic Period
DIMENSIONS 27 3/16 × 23 5/8 × 2 3/8 in. (69 × 60 × 6 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Granite sunk relief representation of Ptolemy II facing left, wearing nemes with uraeus and short kilt, line at neck suggests necklace or shirt. His arms are raised, bent at elbows with existing near hand open, away from body. Above him the bottoms of two columns of inscription. Behind him and separated by a sunk vertical line is a goddess wearing a vulture headdress surmounted by tall plumes, facing right. Condition: Excellent, relief carving very crisp. Broken away at bottom diagonally below king's buttocks and goddess' pelvis. Back of head, near arm and small portion of female's body existing. Large portion gone where the far hand of the king would be. Upper edge broken at a diagonal and cuts through inscription leaving bottom of a cartouche and portion of another column of inscription. Small chips over surface.
CAPTION Relief of Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 or 282–246 B.C.E. Granite, 27 3/16 × 23 5/8 × 2 3/8 in. (69 × 60 × 6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 72.127. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 72.127_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 72.127_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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