Lot 23
  • 23

A Monumental Granite Figure of Sekhmet Enthroned, Thebes, 18th Dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, 1403-1365 B.C.

3,000,000 - 5,000,000 USD
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  • A Monumental Granite Figure of Sekhmet Enthroned, Thebes
  • Granite
  • Height: 82 1/2 in.; 209.5 cm
the lion-headed goddess seated against a back pillar with her hands resting by her knees, the right hand open, the left hand holding an ankh, and wearing a long close-fitting dress, broad collar, and striated tripartite wig covering her mane, the stylized whiskers and ruff carved in shallow relief, the high projection behind the head with channel for insertion of the sun-disk and uraeus, her throne carved on each side with block borders and the union of the emblematic plants of Upper and Lower Egypt, and on the front with two columns of inscription in sunk relief containing the prenomen and nomen of Amenhotep III: the “good God, the Lord of performing Rituals, Neb-maat-re,” and “The Son of Re, whom Re loves, Amenhotep, Ruler of Thebes,” in both declaring him “beloved of Sekhmet-Selkyt.”


European Private Collection
L’Ibis Gallery, New York
John Lennon, acquired from the above in the 1970s
Estate of John Lennon (Sotheby’s, New York, May 30th, 1986, no. 63, cover illus.)
Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman


Jaromir Malek, Diana Magee, and Elizabeth Miles, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Tests, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, vol. 8, part II, Oxford, 1999, 802.120.310
Apollo, cxxiii [291] (May, 1986), advertisements, fig. on p. 19


As shown and described. Note losses to both the ears, the nose, very small chip on the collar and the proper right breast. In addition the arm from the proper right elbow forward is missing, along with much of the thigh, and the proper right hand is damaged, as is the area adjacent to the ankh in the left hand. Both feet are missing. The bottom area of the statue has losses in all areas, and a concrete base has been added to secure and stabilize the work. The back of the statue is in generally good condition, but with losses to the lower part. Overall there are minor scratches and losses. The surface has wear overall due to age and exposure to the elements. Though stable in most areas this exposure has caused lifting and damage to both sides of the throne resulting in the loss of approximately forty percent of the decoration on the proper right side and twenty-five percent on the left. This wear is also evident on the lower six to eight inches of the sculpture. There are unstable areas on the lower part of the sculpture, particularly on the lower right.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Close inspection of the name of Amenhotep in the throne inscription bears witness to his successor Akhenaten’s attempt to expunge every occurrence of Amun’s name, even when such an act defaced the cartouche of his father. It has been subsequently restored, presumably during the reign of Tutankhamun, under whom the cult of Amun regained its former eminence.

Sekhmet was the divine consort of Ptah, the chief god of Memphis in Lower Egypt. She later came to be identified with the goddess Mut, who was similarly the consort of the chief god of Thebes, in Upper Egypt, Amun. The present statue probable once stood among over six hundred images of Sekhmet, goddess of war and protector of the king, which adorned the courts and passageways of the great temple Amenhotep III built in honor of the goddess Mut at Thebes and where some still stand in the ruins of that complex. Thus what Yoyotte describes as a “monumental litany of granite” was probably in part a result of Theban desire to promote Amun as lord of all Egypt and chief of all gods. See Elizabeth Riefstahl, Thebes in the Time of Amenhotep III, Norman, Oklahoma, 1964, p. 62. William Hayes writes that “minor variations in style and proportions show that a number of different sculptors worked on the production of these statues, which though designed primarily as oft-repeated accents in a grandiose religio-architectural scheme, are in individual instances monuments of great beauty, dignity, and technical excellence.” (William C. Hayes, The Scepter of Egypt, Part II, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1959, p. 239.)

Cf. A.P. Kozloff, B.M. Bryan, and L.M. Berman, Egypt’s Dazzling Sun, Amenhotep III and His World, Cleveland, 1992, no. 34 (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), R. Fazzini, Images for Eternity, Egyptian Art from Berkeley and Brooklyn, Brooklyn, 1975, no. 56 (Berkeley), D. Wildung and G. Grimm, Götter, Pharaonen, Mainz, 1978, no. 31 (Cairo), and J.F. Romano, K. Parlasca, and J.M. Rogers, The Luxor Museum of Ancient Egyptian Art, Cairo, 1971, nos. 110 and 111; also compare Sotheby's, New York, December 12th, 2013, no. 9, and December 14th, 1994, no. 30.

See Kozloff, Bryan, and Berman op. cit., Chapter VII, pp. 215-236, “Royal and Divine Images in Animal Form,” for a recent discussion of these representations. The authors note “It is important to realize that the New Kingdom Egyptians did not worship animals, but rather personifications of the power associated with them. Quite often gods exhibited threatening aspects requiring appeasement to encourage the benevolent divine nature. A lion is dangerous particularly when hungry or enraged, but also protects its family. The domesticated cat, identified with a number of goddesses, was seen as the propitiated fireside form of the prowling desert lioness.”