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Acquired in 1939 (the spelunker thinks)

artist
Unknown
attributions_note
bibliography
For two similar figures see L. Budde and R. Nicholls, 'A Catalogue of the Greek and Roman Sculpture in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge' (London, 1964), figs. 55 and 56. For Serapis see R. H. Wilkinson, 'The Complete Gods and Godesses of Ancient Egypt' (London, 2003).
collection_code
SCP
credit
Given by Dr W.L. Hildburgh F.S.A.
date_end
0300-12-31
date_start
0095-01-01
date_text
ca. 100-300 (made)
descriptive_line
A figure of red porphyry dressed in a classical toga and seated on a stool, probably of the ancient god Serapis, Egypto-Roman, ca. 100-300
dimensions
Height: 21 cm
edition_number
event_text
exhibition_history
gallery
historical_context_note
Serapis (or Sarapis, Zaparrus) was a composite deity, the name being a fusion of Osiris and the bull Apis, who was first introduced early in the Ptolemaic era, but lasted well into the Roman period. Cults to Serapis sprang up all across the Mediterranean and Middle East - a temple of Serapis is even mentioned in an inscription found at York. Interestingly, both Serapis figures in the Fitzwilliam are missing their head and both arms, and are shown seated in the same way on stool-like thrones (see figs. 55 and 56, L. Budde and R. Nicholls. 'A Catalogue of the Greek and Roman Sculpture in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge' (Cambridge, 1964; fig. 57 is a head of Serapis). So could this figure be a devotional statue of Serapis, perhaps modelled from a Greek original? It is undeniably possible, and the fact the figure has a Egypto-Roman provenence may support this identification, in which case it must have been made for export, since Serapis was not widely worshipped in Egypt, where purer, native deities were prefered to the foreign composite. Nonetheless, we cannot be sure. Almost the same composition was employed fairly frequently in Roman art to represent gods such as Zeus, as well as emperors and philisophers. The posture is one of a wise individual dispensing wisdom and judgement from a seated position to figures standing before him (which must surely have accompanied this piece). Any of the above could have been satisfactorily depicted by a figure posed like this. The purple colour of the porphyry might indicate imperial connotations. That said, style is so strongly like that of the Fitzwilliam Serapis figures, that we may cautiously hazard a guess that this figure is in fact of Serapis himself.
historical_significance
history_note
This statuette shows a seated figure in a long toga, body turned and left arm raised. Earlier Greek statues commonly depicted seated figures in this manner, knees slightly splayed, often, as here, one bent under the other leg, usually when a god or deity of some sort was being represented (see Elgin marbles for instance). Seated in this way with knees bent low, the figure has a rather flattened, or 'squashed up', quality, suggesting strongly that it was intended to be seen primarily from the front, and not in profile on at an angle. A likely setting for this figure was within an architectural niche, in which case the somewhat relief-like handling of the carving would not have mattered. The folds of the drapery are gouged and incised rather than carfeully finished, and, again, not very three-dimensional in the effect produced. The back of the figure is very flat, and the drapery represented in a fairly rudimentary fashion, implying further that the behind of the figure was not often exposed to view. Imagined in this context, the statuette is likely to be a religious devotional object. There are two similar flat-backed figures (in fact both Roman copies of an older classical statue) in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge of the Egyptian god Serapis, one discovered at Salamis in Cyprus, the other acquired in Rome in the eighteenth century. It is very possible that the present statuette depicts Serapis, and is also a Roman copy of a Greek original.
id
86264
label
last_checked
2014-08-30T01:13:34.000Z
last_processed
2014-08-30T01:13:34.000Z
latitude
26.69636
location
In Storage
longitude
30.246469
marks
materials
porphyry
materials_techniques
Carved porphyry
museum_number
A.1-1939
museum_number_token
a11939
object_number
O111620
object_type
Statuette
on_display
original_currency
original_price
physical_description
A figure of red porphyry, dressed in a classical toga, seated on a plain stool-bench. The head, feet and arms are missing, while the left arm is raised. There are holes for the insertion of a head, arms and feet.
place
Egypt
primary_image_id
production_note
Egypto-Roman
production_type
public_access_description
This statuette shows a seated figure in a long toga, body turned and left arm raised. Earlier Greek statues commonly depicted seated figures in this manner, knees slightly splayed, often, as here, one bent under the other leg, usually when a god or deity of some sort was being represented (see Elgin marbles for instance). Seated in this way with knees bent low, the figure has a rather flattened, or 'squashed up', quality, suggesting strongly that it was intended to be seen primarily from the front, and not in profile on at an angle. A likely setting for this figure was within an architectural niche, in which case the somewhat relief-like handling of the carving would not have mattered. The folds of the drapery are gouged and incised rather than carfeully finished, and, again, not very three-dimensional in the effect produced. The back of the figure is very flat, and the drapery represented in a fairly rudimentary fashion, implying further that the behind of the figure was not often exposed to view. Imagined in this context, the statuette is likely to be a religious devotional object. There are two similar flat-backed figures (in fact both Roman copies of an older classical statue) in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge of the Egyptian god Serapis, one discovered at Salamis in Cyprus, the other acquired in Rome in the eighteenth century. It is very possible that the present statuette depicts Serapis, and is also a Roman copy of a Greek original.
related_museum_numbers
rights
3
shape
site_code
slug
statuette-unknown
sys_updated
2013-08-17T00:00:00.000Z
techniques
carving
title
updated
vanda_exhibition_history
year_end
300
year_start
95