ARCENCPostings

Friday, December 4, 2015

Silver was a rare metal in Ancient Egypt, nevertheless some mummy masks were made just from this precious commodity


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Silver was a rare metal in Ancient Egypt, nevertheless some mummy masks were made just from this precious commodity

This gilded silver funerary mask shows the idealised face of the deceased, whose name has been lost. Although the piece has none of the floral decoration or traces of any inscription that are customarily found in this type of funerary equipment, it does feature outstanding detail in its accurate depiction of the face. The slightly raised corners of his harmonious mouth help enliven the smile on his face. His hair, created in high relief, starts from the middle of his forehead, runs over his ears and falls onto his chest, surrounding his face, which has gentle features and traces of brownish polychrome on the eyebrows and eyes. The piece reveals fine technical work on the metal, managing to create a thin surface with a maximum of two millimetres and showing excellent repoussé work.

Most known funerary masks – as found in several museums in Europe and the USA, as well in Egypt – are made of cartonnage, and many were gilded, sometimes also showing blue painted hair, suggesting fine colouring using lapis-lazuli. Provenance:
John Maxwell Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian in London at Sotheby & Co., from John Maxwell Collection through Howard Carter, in June 12th, 1928.