TITLE: Lion head protome
CULTURE: Ancient Egypt
PERIOD: Roman period, 1st Century A.D.
MATERIAL: Stucco and pigment
SIZE: Height 14 cm
PRICE: 7,500 €
PROVENANCE: Private collection formed in London at the beginning of 1980.
CONSERVATION: In a good state, conserving part of the original polychrome.
This is a lion protome with a naturalistic face, with the distinctive features of the lion rendered in polychrome. The lion is a symbol of strength and ferocity. The biggest of the felines, this animal is known as “the king of beasts”. They are feared and respected for their strength, speed, and frightening roar. The pharaohs were associated with this noble creature from the first dynasties, and the lion became a symbol of royalty.
The fact that there is no very thick mane on this example could indicate that it is a lioness. For this reason it is possible that it was a sculptor’s model for the modeling of the face of the goddess Sekhmet, frequently depicted is stone sculpture. At the end of the pharaonic period a series of objects, called “sculptor’s models”- small heads, hands, feet, animals, etc., in relief or in the round, made in stucco or limestone, finished without decoration or unfinished – appeared. They were used by artists’ apprentices.
The most plausible theory is that we have here a protome to be placed as a termination to a piece of furniture, most probably a bed or a rectangular chest in the form of a body of a lion, very common in funerary goods in this period.
It is from a bed or a piece of furniture.
- HOULIHAN, Patrick F. The Animal World of the Pharaohs. Thames and Hudson, 1196.
- Pierre Berge & Assc. Archéologie. Paris. Dec 1, 2011, Lot 123.