Collecting Masterpieces
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Ancient Egypt
BRONZE STATUETTE OF HARPOKRATES
Ptolemaic dynasty (305 - 30 BC)

A private English collection before the Second World War.

 

Object :
Nº 1166
Medium :
Bronze
Dimensions :
Height: 21.5 cm (8.4”) - Width: 5 cm (1.9”) -Thickness: 8 cm (3.1”)
Bibliography :
Published in Collecting Masterpieces, part One, by Beryl Cavallini, pg 254-255

The statue is made of bronze with a lovely and very old greenish patina. Harpocrates sitting on the throne as a naked boy, the feet resting on an inscribed base, right arm with the forefinger held to his lips as a sign of calling for silence. He wears the red crown with the double Amon feather and the round sun and the childhood lock on the right side. The inscribed text reads: “that Harpocrates son of Amon can give life to the prophet Nespakhered engendered by the mistress of the house. Excellent preservation, very nice green patina with traces of cuprite. Feathers are partly missing.

The statue in bronze with a nice greenish patina is Harpokrates sitting on the throne as a naked boy, the feet resting on an inscribed base, the right arm with the forefinger held to his lips as a sign of calling for silence. He wears the red crown with the double Amon feather and the round sun and the quite recognizable childhood lock on the right side. The inscribed text engraved on the base reads: “that Harpocrates son of Amon can give life to the prophet(…) Nespakhered(?) engendered by the mistress of the house (…)”.Harpokrates is the juvenile representation of the god Horus, the posthumous son that Isis had with her brother Osiris. Particularly worshipped during the Greco-Roman period, he represented the new-born sun rising each day at dawn and, by extension, Apollo. When the Greeks conquered Egypt under Alexander the Great they transformed the Egyptian God Horus into Harpokrates. While touching his mouth with his finger, the child god was asking symbolically the enlightened to keep silent about the mysteries. An Egyptian legend, adapted in Athens and then in Rome, tells that Eros gave a rose to the child Harpokrates as a gift from Aphrodite. The goddess wanted to ensure that Harpokrates would not say anything about her intrigues and her passions, as the child could see everything from the bedrooms and behind the wall hangings in the banquet rooms. The rose, an attribute of the child god, became a symbol of discretion, giving rise to the expression sub rosa. Roman people often ornamented their rings with a seal representing the face of the god with a finger on the lips, showing in that way that her message had to be kept secret.