Lot 660: Egyptian Polychrome Mask
December 7, 2016
Harwich, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: Roman Period, 30 BC-323 AD. A moulded plaster funerary mask of a youthful female with wavy hair and row of curls to the forehead: painted detailing to the eyes, eyebrows, hair and face; mounted on a customised stand. See discussion in Taylor, J.H. Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt, London, 2001, chapter 7. . Property of an Israeli gentleman; acquired from Aaron gallery, Berkeley Square, London W1, in 2011; formerly in the Issa collection, early 1980s. The plaster masks derive from Pharaonic traditions, in which the mask served as a substitute for the head of the deceased and as a means of elevating him or her to immortal status. The derivation is often reflected in paintings and texts located on the mantle surrounding the head. Like the painted mummy portraits, the masks suggest strongly individualised appearances and affect Roman fashions in hairstyle, jewellery, and dress. They follow, however, a somewhat different pattern. For example, female masks may have coiffures that combine Roman arrangements of the upper part of the hair with long corkscrew locks that were considered typically Egyptian. Despite the seeming individuality of the masks, most faces were made in a mould. Distinguishing details were worked in the plaster with a spatula or knife. The ears were added separately, and sometimes eyes were inlaid with glass or stone. The mask was then frequently painted or gilded.
Condition Report: Fine condition, some repainting.