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CNG Feature Auction 117

Lot nuber 1099

ROMAN. Roman Egypt. Limestone relief depicting a divine triad. Circa 2nd-3rd century AD.


CNG Feature Auction 117
Lot: 1099.

Closing Date: May 20 2021 11:00 ET

Antiquities

Estimate: $ 8 000

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ROMAN. Roman Egypt. Limestone relief depicting a divine triad. Circa 2nd-3rd century AD. The relief scene depicts a bearded male wearing a polos (likely Serapis), seated facing on a high openwork throne, flanked by standing female figures on molded pedestals. The one to his left (the viewer’s right) is a wavy-haired goddess wearing a diaphanous, short-sleeved chiton wrapped with an overgarment tied between her breasts in an Isis knot; she holds a cornucopia filled with grain and fruits cradled in her left arm and rests her right hand on a tiller, identifying her as Isis-Fortuna. The female figure to the right wears a heavier stola with a palla wrapped around it and pulled up over her head; she holds a pair of grain ears in her lowered left hand, identifying her as Demeter. A smiling animal resembling a panther or a lioness sits at the left side of Serapis. Dimensions: Height 27.5 cm (10”), width 38.5 cm, (10.75”). A very rare survival in exceptional state of preservation. J.J. Herrmann Jr., Demeter-Isis or the Egyptian Demeter? A Greco-Roman Sculpture from an Egyptian Workshop in Boston (JDAI 114 (1999), p. 85, fig. 16. Fully intact; considerable light reddish pigment remaining, sharp details, deeply cut and well executed.

From the Collection of a Connoisseur; ex Antiqua Catalog XV (2009) “from a North American collection, Santa Monica, CA”.

This remarkable triptytch demonstrates the many ways in which the deities of different cultures were amalgamated in Greek and Roman-ruled Egypt. The Greek Demeter and Egyptian Isis were frequently paired in antiquity, suggesting they had a special relationship, and many such representations also included an enthroned figure of Serapis between them. Demeter usually appears to the god’s right, and Isis to his left, as seen here. The two goddesses were seen as cultural equivalents, essentially the same goddess represented by two cultures. In the article noted above, J.J. Hermann suggests such scenes as this are not truly triads so much as a statement of this duality. Although the curious animal seated next to Serapis looks feline, it might actually represent Cerberus, guardian of the underworld, who is sometimes shown with only a single head instead of the usual two or three. Alternatively, it could be a panther, companion of Dionysos. This comports with Serapis’s role as a syncretistic deity incorporating the Egyptian Osiris / Apis with the Greek Hades / Dionysos.

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 117 lots will be determined during the live online sale that will be held on 19-20 May 2021. This lot is in Session 4, which begins 20 May 2021 at 2 PM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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