Lot 6
  • 6

An Egyptian Steatite Figure of the Lady Iset, Chantress of Sobek, 19th Dynasty, Reign of Ramesses I/early in the Reign of Ramesses II, circa 1292-1250 B.C.

600,000 - 900,000 USD
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  • An Egyptian Steatite Figure of the Lady Iset, Chantress of Sobek
  • Basalt
  • Height 16 in. 40.6 cm.
wife of the scribe Imen-heru, seated on a cushioned seat with her hands resting on her thighs, and wearing sandals, long wraparound pleated gown clinging to her body and fastened below the chest, bracelets, broad beaded collar, and long wig, parted in the center, bound in a diadem with lotus flower in front, arranged in a herringbone pattern down the sides and back, and falling over the shoulders in short fringes, the back pillar and back of the seat finely engraved in sunk relief with three columns of inscription starting with the hetep-di-nesut offering formula (“an offering given by the King”) and naming “Isis of the sovereign isle of the gods,” the sides of the seat engraved at a later stage with representations of Itset’s children, on the right with two columns of inscriptions and the figures of two striding priests, one called Nakht(?), “prophet of Paibib,” the other “wab-priest of Paibib”, his name unspecified, and on the left side of the throne with two striding women each introduced as a “chantress of Ptah” in the accompanying inscriptions, raising her left hand in a gesture of adoration, and holding a lotus flower in her right hand.


David Pollak, Vienna and Paris (see below)
acquired by the present owner from the above in 1950


As shown and described. The damaged eyes and lids have some fill which was never carved to try and complete them; some fill also on the center of the upper lip. Part of the underside of the integral base, which has a projecting flange that would have fitted into an ancient base, has been slightly shaved down to fit better onto the old but modern granite base.
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

The mention of "Isis of the sovereign isle of the gods" on the back pillar probably refers to the deity worshiped in the temple precinct within which the present statue was originally placed and dedicated, perhaps in the Fayum where Sobek had his major cult center and Iset was serving as member of his clergy.

The figures, names, and titles of Iset's children, all of them priests and priestesses of various other deities, were engraved on the side of the seat in a rougher manner than the carefully carved inscription on the back pillar, suggesting they were added as an afterthought and by a different hand.

Isolated representations of women in the round are uncommon in the New Kingdom, when they are usually represented as consorts in pair statues. For related examples see Museo Egizio, Turin, inv. no. 3094 (J. Vandier, La statuaire égyptienne, Paris, 1958, pl. CXLI,= C. Aldred, New Kingdom Art in Ancient Egypt, London, 1951, no. 55), and Walters Art Museum, inv. no. 22.106 (http://art.thewalters.org/detail/22976/seated-statue-of-nehy/).

David Pollak, one of three brothers, members of the famous Pollak dynasty of art dealers in Vienna, settled in France in 1927, returned to Vienna in 1934 to take over the family business, and left Austria permanently for Paris in 1938, upon Germany's annexation. His son, Jean Pollak (1924-2012), opened his own paintings gallery, Galerie Ariel in Paris, in 1952.