Sunday, May 19, 2013

Museum Pieces - Artist's Sketch of Pharaoh Spearing a Lion

Artist's Sketch of Pharaoh Spearing a Lion
Photocredit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New Kingdom, Ramesside
Dynasty 20
ca. 1186–1070 B.C.
Country of Origin Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV 62), debris near the entrance, Carter/Carnarvon 1920
Limestone, ink
h. 14 cm (5 1/2 in), w. 12.5 cm (4 15/16 in), th. 1.5 cm (9/16 in)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
Accession Number:

In this lively hunting scene, an unidentified Ramesside pharaoh is represented symbolically slaying the enemies of Egypt in the form of a lion. The hieratic text reads: "The slaughter of every foreign land, the Pharaoh—may he live, prosper, and be healthy."

This ostracon, a limestone chip used for sketching, was found in the Valley of the Kings during excavations conducted by Howard Carter on behalf of the Earl of Carnarvon, who received the piece in the division of finds. Although many of the figured ostraca discovered in this royal cemetery were clearly trial sketches made to facilitate an artist's work, this scene is not found in royal tombs, nor do the figures conform to the strict proportions of a formal rendering.

The scene was drawn with great economy of line by the confident hand of a skilled artist who required no grid lines as a guide. It may have been done for the amusement of the maker, or it may graphically represent the artist's hope that the ruler should be a strong protector of Egypt.

Excavated by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, 1920. Acquired by Lord Carnarvon in the division of finds; Carnarvon Collection, 1920–1926. Purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926.


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