Statuette of a Pagan

Ancient Egypt, mid-14th century BC

This superb small wooden figure of a pagan is a real masterpiece of the Hermitage collection of Ancient Egyptian art. Like monumental scupture, small pieces also reflected the application of a strict set of rules. According to Ancient Egyption canon, the priest is shown walking, strictly frontally, his left leg extended. Originally his hands, which hang by his sides, held some attributes which are now lost. With its almond-shaped eyes, the face is very generalized and cold. The lines of the high, raised eyebrows, bent in the middle and descending sharply to the temples, were characteristic of the reign of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), from which this statuette dates. In the New Kingdom it was traditional to depict individuals - grandees, civil servants and priests - with the features of the ruling pharaoh. The body of the young man is well modelled. With its smooth, soft outlines, the figure, carved from a single block of acacia, echoes the lines in the texture of the red-brown wood. Wooden statuettes were covered with soft resin made from the sap of coniferous trees, and polished until they shone. The priest's attire is typical for the late 15th to early 14th century BC: the thighs are encircled by an elongated apron, a little let down over the stomach. Such figures usually had a rectangular pedestal or stand bearing the subject's name and titles, but in the case of the Hermitage piece this has been lost. The shaved, wigless head is a sign that the subject was a priest. Statuettes of those who served in temples and of other private individuals were widespread during the time of the New Kingdom, when wooden sculptures were often adorned with gilding and other materials.


Statuette of a Pagan




34,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1862; previously in the collection of Castiglione

Inventory Number:





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