'Egyptian Head of a Pharaoh' could bring $5m at Christie's sale of Ancient art

Christie's has announced an incredibly important sale of Antiquities on December 7, at 10 am, which will offer over 225 lots, led by several exceptional works of Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art, plus Near Eastern and European antiquities, along with some fine examples of Nordic Neolithic stone tools.

The sale is expected to exceed $18 million. It will be followed by a sale of Ancient Jewelry at 2 pm. Both the auctions and their pre-sale viewings will take place in Christie's Special Exhibition Galleries on the 20th floor.

Leading the sale is an Egyptian Head of a Pharaoh in red jasper, one of the rarest and most beautiful Egyptian works of art to appear at auction in decades (estimate: $3,000,000-$5,000,000).

Nearly 4 inches high, the superbly sculpted head was originally part of a composite statue in which the face, hands and feet were all carved from a bright red jasper, a material that was used only rarely for larger statuary.

The rest of the statue likely was carved from alabaster, limestone, or wood. The original complete statue would have stood about 36 inches high.


This '$5m' head was first displayed at the Antikenmuseum Basel

Since this red jasper head was first presented to the public at the Antikenmuseum Basel, where it was exhibited between 1998 and 2011, there has been intense scholarly debate as to the identity of the Pharaoh depicted.

There are close stylistic parallels, in the shape of the head and the aquiline nose, to portraits of the 18th Dynasty female Pharaoh Hatshepsut and her stepson Thutmose III. Others see, in the treatment of the lips and the subtle creases on the neck, a close resemblance to portraits of the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Seti I and his son Ramesses II.

No matter the identity of the Pharaoh portrayed, the glorious qualities of the art of the New Kingdom are perfectly encapsulated in this exquisite red jasper portrait.

The sale includes 18 works of art from Property from the Collection of John W. Kluge Sold to Benefit Columbia University, a large and wide-ranging collection of artwork, furniture and decorative arts that are being offered for sale in several major auctions.

Other highlights of the antiquities are an extremely rare monumental Roman bronze figure of an Emperor, circa late 2nd - early 3rd century A.D., two important Egyptian bronzes and four richly decorated Apulian vases.

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