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A Large Egyptian Bronze Figure of Isis with Horus, 25th/26th Dynasty, 750-525 B.C.

Auction Closed

July 5, 11:37 AM GMT


100,000 - 150,000 GBP

Lot Details


A Large Egyptian Bronze Figure of Isis with Horus

25th/26th Dynasty, 750-525 B.C.

the goddess seated with her feet resting on a square foot-stool and holding her son Horus in her lap, and wearing a long close-fitting dress, bracelets and armlets, broad beaded collar, striated tripartite wig with uraeus, and diadem of uraei surmounted by horns and sun-disk, the wig engraved on the back and sides with the vulture goddess Nekhbet holding shen-signs, her son wearing anklets, bracelets and armlets, broad beaded collar with heart amulet below, braided side-lock, and close-fitting cap.

Height 43.2 cm

private collection, Cairo, 1920s or earlier
American private collection, given by the above in 1961
American private collection (Sotheby's, New York, December 8th, 2015, no. 15, illus., prior to cleaning)
acquired by the present owner at the above auction
Compare Gifts for the Gods. Images from Egyptian Temples, edited by Marsha Hill, with Deborah Schorsch, technical editor, pp.149-151, a bronze figure of  Isis and Horus in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (45.4.3) which is both close in style and especially its unusually large size. The author writes, op. cit.,  p. 13, that  “beginning in the Third Intermediate Period [circa 1075-716 B.C.] or perhaps slightly earlier, other changes in religious practices manifested themselves, including a more overt acknowledgement of the importance of women and female divinities in both state and religious contexts, and an identification of the king with the divine child, especially Horus. In this atmosphere, the image of Isis sucking Horus reemerged in a formal mode and thereafter became emblematic in that form.”

While art historians debate the measure of influence the iconography of Isis nursing Horus had on later images of the Virgin Mary nursing the infant Jesus, the formal similarities are undeniable. Like the Virgin Mary in Christian tradition, Isis was worshipped as a symbol of maternal beneficence, much embodied in the current example.