Sculpture in Egyptianizing Style


About this object

Architectural statue of a lifesize male water-carrier in Egyptianizing style, identified because of the pose and the iconography. The man stands frontally with a slight movement only in the advanced left leg. He is either a priest, a male attendant or a participant in a religious ritual. He wears a voluminous but light cloak, draped in non classical fashion around the neck and enveloping both hands at pleated folds. The hands are clasped above his belly and form a support for a rotunda jar. The jar is a restoration.

The statue is carved in high relief but it's not free standing, there is a slab running at the back of the statue and it is flat (30 cm wide) with roughly tooled surface and central ridge (20 cm wide). The slab appears to have been cut down at a later stage. The purpose of the figure may have been to decorate a wall fitting into a shallow recess. Walls screened by a file of carved figures were common in Egypt and may have been the inspiration for this Roman imitation of an Egyptianised monument. Perhaps of Hadrian's time, possibly from his villa.

Blundell mentions the statue which he calls Isis in letters to his friend Charles Townley, the latter was not appreciative of the piece. Blundell intended to pair the statue with one of the caryatids from the Villa Negroni. He confuses the piece as an Etruscan in the Engravings.

Restored: head, neck, and corresponding part of flat background; vase. Small patches on drapery and plinth. The whole surface may have been smoothed over.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    2nd Century AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    1920 mm x 435 mm x 425 mm x 610 kg
  • Note
    Bartman finds parallels with other monuments for the correct restoration of the statue as a male Egyptian naoophoros who carried the Nile water used in cultic rituals connected with Isis. Earlier the statue had been restored as a female and attracted the attention of Winckelmann who interpreted it as a pregrant woman. Bartman believes that the inspiration for the current restoration may have been from reliefs from the Villa Mattei, or the Isiac processional scenes or the Egyptianising columns from the Iseum Campense in Rome.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell (Collector, previous owner); Ciriaco Mattei (Previous owner); Giuseppe Mattei (Previous owner); Joseph William Col Sir Weld (Previous owner)

Where is this object from?

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Previous owners

  • Joseph William Col Sir Weld

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Ciriaco Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1614
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Giuseppe Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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