Lot 654: Egyptian Isis and Horus Figurine
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: Third Intermediate Period, 1069-702 BC. A bronze figurine depicting Isis and Horus; Isis seated preparing to suckle Horus wearing tripartite wig with uraeus, cow-horns and solar disc, feet resting on a panel; Horus naked with side-lock; mounted on a stand. Cf. Hill, M. (ed), Gifts for the Gods: Images from Egyptian Temples, New York, 2007 pp.149-150, for a similar bronze figure from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession number 45.4.3. 375 grams, 17cm (6 3/4"). From an early 20th century collection. The name of the goddess (Aset in ancient Egyptian) means 'throne' and she wears the hieroglyphic symbol as her crown. Isis was regarded as the symbolic mother of each reigning Pharaoh and therefore the power of authority for divine kingship. In Egyptian religion Isis sought her dead husband, Osiris, who had been murdered by their brother, Seth. Isis, who is is known as the 'Mistress of Magic', used her powers to bring Osiris back from the dead and conceive a child, Horus, who would go on to avenge his father and take his place as the rightful heir. During the time that Horus was a baby, Isis protected him against snakes, predators and other dangers and thus she would protect all mortal children. The image of Isis seated and nursing the infant Horus can be traced back to the 8th Dynasty, but became especially popular during the Late Period. It was during the rule of the Greek Ptolemies that Isis began to associated with a mystery cult and her worship began to spread across the Mediterranean. During the Roman Empire the worship of Isis became extremely popular and spread even further with temples to her being found in many cities of the provinces, including London. The image of Isis nursing Horus would go on to influence Christianity with the image of the Madonna nursing the infant Christ. Images such as this would have been used for private worship within the home, or dedicated as votive offerings in temples.
Condition Report: Fine condition.