ANONYMOUS (Egypt) Napoleonic Osiris ca. 1800 [P/R/V/P/B] - x +

CN: SCUL1800osir

MT: ivory on wooden base (12x2x1 / BS:2x6x3)

DN: Mr. Takis Efstathiou - 2006

CM: Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt in 1798 helped kick off 'Egyptomania' across Europe. The West found in pharaonic Egypt the epitomy of glory. The present ivory statuette is a fascinating manifestation of the way in which Egyptomania was expressed in the decorative arts. The statuette represents a stereotypical likeness of Osiris; as crowned king holding a crook and flail. Osiris was worshipped both as a fertility god who ensured the rebirth of vegetation each spring, and as lord of the Underworld, through whom all could live again. Guarding the entrance to the Underworld - as shown here - Osiris would admit only those who could satisfy him of their goodness during life. This statuette is christened Napoleonic Osiris, because the Egyptian god seems to have been rendered through a French idiosyncracy in 'empire' style. Unlike original Egyptian sculpture, the carving here is flat and austere. Despite the sculptor's effort to imitate the Egyptian craftmasnhip, the bust seems to have been executed under the French influence of this period's military fashion. In many respects, the attitude of this version of Osiris resembles Napoleon. Moreover, the form of the sculpture is akin to the general style reserved for the manufacture of related ivory chess pawns.

[Megakles 08/2006]