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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
  • Place Made: Behbeit el Higra
  • DATES 285 or 282-246 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 27 3/16 x 23 5/8 x 2 3/8 in. (69 x 60 x 6 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Relief of Ptolemy II Philadelphos, 285 or 282-246 B.C.E. Granite, 27 3/16 x 23 5/8 x 2 3/8 in. (69 x 60 x 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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