Ancient Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. A gorgeous relief stele fragment featuring an elegantly dressed female figure presenting in a standing pose while holding both arms gracefully at her sides. The woman wears a shin-length, turquoise-hued dress with a yellow and orange lower trim that complements her slender femininity, dons a yellow-green shirt atop her chest and arms, and displays a wesekh pectoral collar around her neck. Her wrists bear faint remains of orange trim as well as beige, flesh-colored pigment on her hands. A large, almond-shaped eye outlined in black is the focal point of her right-facing countenance that bears puffy lips, a finely detailed ear, and a lengthy tripartite wig showing one rectangular lappet. The intricate relief detailing suggests that this was a woman of status, and the polychrome pigment indicates that her estate bore the wealth to festoon her tomb with elaborate embellishments. Size: 4.625" W x 13.375" H (11.7 cm x 34 cm); 14.625" H (37.1 cm) on included custom stand.
The carved (rather than simply painted) and brightly colorful nature of this relief indicates that it was from a prestigious location - most likely a major temple, but also possibly a high-ranking official's tomb or even a palace. Images like this one were part of larger stories, usually a journey through the afterlife or meeting deities in the afterlife, that were designed to help people understand religious concepts and, if found in a tomb, to introduce the dead to their new world.
Provenance: private Hagar collection, Wildwood, Missouri, USA; ex-private North Carolina, USA collection, acquired in the 1980s
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Nicks to figure, peripheries, and verso, with fading and chipping to original pigment, and light encrustations, otherwise intact and excellent. Nice remains of original pigment on figure.