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CNG Feature Auction 117

Lot nuber 1100

ROMAN. Roman Egypt. Gilded wooden funerary wreath. Circa 1st-4th century AD.

CNG Feature Auction 117
Lot: 1100.
 Estimated: $ 4 000


Sold For $ 8 500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

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ROMAN. Roman Egypt. Gilded wooden funerary wreath. Circa 1st-4th century AD. Overall 29.5 cm in diameter, covered with stucco and then gilded, the outer band made up of triplets of laurel leaves converging on a central circular painted “jewel” of reddish hue, outlined in black. With custom stand in black metal. Art of Ancient Egypt (Abrams, 1969), p. 333, fig. 136 for a similar example. Intact with nearly full gilding, a few minor breaks and losses on the outside, the interior retaining its original reddish hue.

From the Collection of a Connoisseur; ex R.D. Collection, Brussels, Belgium; acquired from Hamakhis Gallery in 2006 (Art Loss Register Ref. # S00111720).

Although this thick, gilded wooden wreath appears Roman in style, golden wreaths play an important role in ancient Egyptian funerary customs and art. From Pharaonic times, a wreath referred to as the “crown of vindication” was placed over the head of a mummy. Chapter 19 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead refers to the bestowal of such a wreath: “The father Atum binds for these this beautiful wreath of vindication on this thy brow. Live, beloved of the gods, forever” (Egyptian Book of the Dead as translated by Thomas George Allen, University of Chicago, 1960, pp. 105-106). This practice continued through the Ptolemaic era and into the Roman period, as demonstrated both from actual survivals such as this remarkably complete example, and the famous “Fayum Portraits” in wax encaustic on wooden panels or gesso often found attached to the mummy’s “face,” which frequently show the subject wearing a golden wreath in the Roman style (see Herakleides: A Portrait Mummy from Roman Egypt, Getty Press, 2010). The wreath offered here would have, in similar fashion, placed around the head of the decedent’s mummy, connoting his or her blessed state, welcomed by the gods, having achieved the afterlife hoped for by all Egyptians.

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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