Relief Plaque Depicting a Queen or Goddess, Ptolemaic Period (305-30 B.C.)
21.6 x 19.6 x 2.1 cm (8 1/2 x 7 3/4 x 1 in.)
Museum Purchase Fund, 1920.259
Ancient and Byzantine Art
The rendering of this figure illustrates the difference in Egyptian carving after the arrival of Greek craftsmen, who worked at Ptolemy’s court. This relief of a queen or goddess bears the influence of the naturalistic Greek carving style introduced by the Ptolemies. The subject and clothing are traditionally Egyptian, but flesh undulates beneath the skin of her cheeks, mouth, and neck. Her eye, however, is still shown in Egyptian style—as if seen from the front, not in profile, as is her face.
— Exhibition label, When the Greeks Ruled: Egypt After Alexander the Great, October 31, 2013–July 27, 2014, Gallery 154.
In Egyptian art, both queens and goddesses are depicted wearing the type of headdress shown here. It is in the form of a vulture whose wings spread protectively alongside the head. The woman’s fleshy features and soft chin are characteristic of the art of the Ptolemaic Period.