One of the archetypal images of Ancient Egypt is the seated cat, sacred to the ferocious, feline goddess Bastet, who was associated with the home and childbirth. The animal’s characteristic fecundity, formidable protectiveness for her kittens, and pitiless hunting skills were allied to lion-like aggressiveness of a war goddess bent on destroying her enemies. Bastet protected the home from evil spirits and diseases, in particular those associated with women and children. Bubastis, in Lower Egypt, was the site of Bastet’s cult centre. It was a rich and luxurious city and her temple was the focus of the many visitors who came to venerate the goddess. Statues like this one would have been presented at her temples by offerants. Bastet was very widely worshipped from the 2nd Dynasty onwards, though the majority of votive offerings and talismans in her image date to the Late Period.
Mid-19th century collection, France
Monsieur Y.E., Paris, France; acquired 1930-1956, thence by descent
This sculpture was formerly mounted on a giallo antico stone base, the beneath variously annotated in a 19th century hand. When removed for conservation and remounting it was found to have been stuffed with a fragment from a page of Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, a Parisian newspaper, dated 2nd December 1865, adding to the 19th century provenance.
LiteratureCompare Mogens Jørgensen, Catalogue Egypt V Egyptian Bronzes, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Copenhagen, 2009), p.211, fig.72.3
Also see an example on display at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, accession number I.1.a 6835