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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1969.177.15.A-C
Title
Winged Female
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
mid 7th-late 1st century BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Egypt (Ancient)
Period
Late Period to Ptolemaic
Culture
Egyptian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/289404
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Leaded bronze
Technique
Cast, lost-wax process
Dimensions
Winged Figure: 10.3 x 1.2 x 7 cm (4 1/16 x 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.)
Kneeling Figure: 2.8 cm (1 1/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Point 1: Cu, 86.52; Sn, 9.13; Pb, 4.04; Zn, 0.01; Fe, 0.03; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.03; Sb, 0.03; As, 0.15; Bi, 0.033; Co, less than 0.005; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
Point 2 (base): Cu, 87.5; Sn, 8.68; Pb, 3.53; Zn, 0.01; Fe, 0.03; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.03; Sb, 0.03; As, 0.13; Bi, 0.032; Co, less than 0.005; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001

J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The larger figure is a solid cast by the lost-wax process. The face and decorative incised lines in the wing were probably made in the wax model. Finer scratch marks over most of the surface appear to be original finishing marks made in the bronze.

The detached left wing is a modern cast copper alloy restoration. The right wing is original, but is broken and glued in place. The feet and base may be ancient, but they do not join to the legs, and the patina is completely different in appearance. The patina is green with modern brown restoration wax and fill material near repairs. Holes drilled in the legs to attach the base are modern. The crude scratches in the face are from restoration cleaning. The proper right edge of the headdress is lost.

The small kneeling figure was mechanically cleaned, although some burial accretions and corrosion products remain. The toe area on the feet was reshaped; it was ground down to the metal on all sides to create a tenon for mounting. It appears to be a lost-wax cast with post-casting tool marks. The patina is green, brown, and red.


Henry Lie and Tony Sigel (submitted 2002)

Provenance
Harry J. Denberg, New York, NY (by 1969), gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1969.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Harry J. Denberg
Accession Year
1969
Object Number
1969.177.15.A-C
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This winged figure may represent Isis as a protective figure; her pose indicates that she would have been part of a group composition, with her arms held out to protect another figure in front of her. Her face is rather crudely modeled with a horizontal slit for the mouth and a flat nose. She wears the sun disc atop double circlets (the “modius crown”) with a vestigial uraeus on the upper circlet. Wings with ambiguous arm-like appendages along the top extend straight out in front, almost perpendicular to the body. Roughly incised feathers mark the outside surfaces; the inner surfaces remain unadorned and probably would have sheltered another figure, such as Osiris or the Apis bull (1). In the later periods, Isis was considered the mother of the Apis bull, which after its death became associated with Osiris. Excavated examples of winged goddesses have been found at the Serapeum of Saqqara, the cult center for the Memphite Osiris-Apis (2). The proper left wing is broken at the join with the body. A pair of feet on a square base with peg below had been attached in modern times, but it may not belong to the figure. The metal is yellow, which may indicate that this piece is a modern creation.

A small kneeling male figure, 1969.177.15.D, was also associated with this Isis figurine and base when acquired. The figure holds his arms, bent at the elbows, in front of his torso palms down, the left hand slightly higher than the right. He may wear a headpiece, giving his head a bulbous profile in the back, or have a shaven head. Small eyes, nose, and mouth are visible—the ears are disproportionately large, with horizontal lines at the center. The lower legs are clearly shown drawn up under the upper legs. The bottoms of the feet are visible at the back, rendered with a space between them; below the feet and connecting them is a small tang for insertion into a base or mount.

Whether or not the kneeling figure and the winged figure belonged together in antiquity, this type of group, with a small adorant kneeling before a much larger deity, and each separately inserted into a single base, is known from several examples (3).

NOTES:

1. Compare a winged Isis in the Musée de Guéret, published in M.-D. Quémereuc, Collections Égyptiennes, Musée de Guéret (Guéret, 1992) 34, no. 3; and in G. Roeder, Ägyptische Bronzefiguren, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Mitteilungen aus der Ägyptischen Sammlung 6 (Berlin, 1956) pl. 67; and an example in the Louvre, Paris, with a winged Isis embracing a figure of Osiris, with a small worshipper kneeling in front of them, inv. no. E3722.

2. Roeder 1956 (supra 1) 241.

3. See, for example, B. Mendoza, Bronze Priests of Ancient Egypt from the Middle Kingdom to the Graeco-Roman Period, BAR Int. Ser. 1866 (Oxford, 2008) 148-59, nos. 38 and 40, pls. 57-58. Mendoza includes in the catalogue many adorant figures that have become separated from their group contexts; see ibid., 139-140, 148, and 179, nos. 14-15, 37, and 153, pls. 13, 34, 48, and 73. See also Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae Apis no. 16, which includes a winged Isis, Apis, and small kneeling figure.


Marian Feldman and Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu