The plaster cast is well preserved.

The chin is absent, but the rounded edge below the lip shows that its absence is not due to breakage. The eye-sockets are empty, and were probably intended to receive eyes of some other material. The sculpture is similar to ones found at el-Amarna in Egypt by a sculptor named Tuthmosis. The plasters from el-Amarna have been divided into two groups, one entirely naturalistic, the other thought to represent successive stages in preparation for a carving in stone. If the same criteria are applicable to this cast, the shallow wrinkles on the forehead and about the eyes, which seem plainly sculptural additions, and also the empty eye-sockets, would associate the cast with the second group from el-Amarna though the absence of chin is unexplained. The el-Amarna finds date from about 1370 BC, but though it is plausible to assign a similar date to this mask it must be borne in mind that Egyptian sculptors may have employed the same methods long before and long after Tuthmosis, and that many naturalistic heads, including the magnificent portraits of the Middle Kingdom, may have been produced by such means. There are no means of identifying the person represented. There is nothing to suggest that he was royal; he may have been an official honoured with a statue as a reward for his services.

Provenance

Mr Hewett; French priv collection.


British Museum

Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
020 7323 8181
Website

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5.30pm (Fri until 8.30pm)

Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan