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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Standing Harpocrates
Work Type
sculpture, statuette
1-200 CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Africa, Egypt (Ancient)
Roman Imperial period, Middle
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Terracotta, traces of paint
12.1 × 6.8 cm (4 3/4 × 2 11/16 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Through Helmut von Erffa - Postage Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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First figure on left of image.

Incomplete figurine; missing everything below the upper thigh, but otherwise in good condition.

Standing male child, dressed, leaning on an altar to the left. He wears a high crown over a wreath and diadem. Wavy hair, parted at the middle, frames the round face and falls down to chubby cheeks. “Squinting” eyes with both lids rendered in relief; flattened, round nose; narrow, puckered mouth with plump lips.

He wears a short-sleeved tunic with a plain, loose neck; vertical folds fall down the body in attempt at naturalism. The body is discernible underneath the tunic, especially the round abdomen, which sports a large, depressed navel. The right arm, bare, goes up across the chest, right hand resting at the neck and index finger on the mouth. The left arm embraces a long and narrow cornucopia (horn of plenty).

The boy leans on an altar placed at his left. Atop the altar, a brawny animal stands on two legs and faces forward; likely a falcon.

Hollow. Mold-made in a single-sided mold, likely plaster. Thick, plain back with partial circular venthole near mid body. Visible yet tidy join seams; carefully cleaned interior. Significant amount of surface detailing done through incision.

Pinkish brown clay with some grog inclusions.
Although our figurine is incomplete, similar examples elsewhere (H 2309 at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, for example) allow us to reconstruct the bottom: the boy would have stood with a slight contrapposto, the long tunic covering his legs down to his feet.

The young boy depicted here is Harpocrates, a Greco-Roman adaptation of the Egyptian child god Horus. His form is the result of the combination of several traditions; the elaborate headdress, for instance, combines the royal emblems of Egyptian kings (the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt) and of Hellenistic rulers (the diadem). The god’s posture, likewise, is an amalgam; the finger raised to the mouth is an Egyptian convention for the representation of children, while the counterbalanced stance is more typical of Greek art.

Related Works

Verification Level

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