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Erotic Composition

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
Despite the overtly sexual imagery, this composition has important religious content. The procreative union recalls the birth of Horus after the murdered Osiris posthumously impregnated his wife Isis. This legend, one of ancient Egypt’s most important myths, was associated with fertility and resurrection. The six small figures probably represent priests. The bound oryx held by the two attendants at the right signifies the destruction of evil and reinforces Osiris’s triumph.
MEDIUM Limestone, pigment
  • Place Made: Alexandria, Egypt
  • DATES 305-30 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Early Ptolemaic Period
    DIMENSIONS 6 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 6 11/16 in. (16.5 x 9.5 x 17 cm)
    CREDIT LINE Gift in memory of Dr. Jacob Hirsch and Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Limestone group in the round on rectangular base. Erotic subject. In center nude woman wearing curled wig attended by six nude males each wearing the side-lock. In front right corner two boys (?) hold miniature figure of a bound oryx. Flesh of males painted a bright red, that of woman white, her wig black and the base a brown-yellow. Condition: Broken and assembled from many pieces but apparently complete. The base is intact.
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