Egyptian relief for Hepy

December 27, 2021


We are now approaching the end of this anniversary year for the gallery, so here is the 48th of our 50 objects out of the many we have sold to museums around the world:

Looking at the offerings piled high on the table I wonder if the scene bears any resemblance to your Christmas table, groaning with meats, bread and vegetables.

Of course, I could ask if you have had a Hepy Christmas, but that would be a truly awful pun, wouldn't it, and there are standards...

Egyptian relief for Hepy,
Middle Kingdom, early 12th Dynasty, c.1950 BC
Height 32.3cm, width 31.2cm

The scene carved in raised relief, the hieroglyphs in sunken relief. The female offerant wears a long wig and close-fitting garment revealing her slender body beneath, its fine weave emphasising her navel and knees; her left breast exposed. She holds an ointment jar in her right hand and with her left lifts a lotus flower to her nose. Before her is an elaborate offering table which includes three storage jars supporting a reed tray on which is piled a calf’s head, a loaf of bread, three ointment cones, a lettuce, a calf’s haunch and a goose.

A column of hieroglyphs behind the woman reads “...for the Ka of the Venerated One, beloved of her father, praised by her mother, venerated with Ptah-Sokar”, and another in the space between the figure and table names the owner “Hepy, Justified, born of Hepy”

This relief was carved during the reign of Amenemhat I or the early years of Senwosret I. The headband and double shoulder strap are unusual and perhaps a distinguishing mark of a particular artist.

Eugène Mutiaux (1846-1925), Paris, France
Colonel Wild[e]; by descent from the above and sold at Hotel Drouot 1952
Ernest Ascher, Paris, France; acquired 1954 and seen by the late Egyptologist J.J. ClèreIan Woodner (1903-1990), New York, USA; acquired prior to 1969, thence by descent
San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas, USA; acquired from Charles Ede in 2019, object number 2018.5

Hotel Drouot, ‘Objets de haute curiosité: art égyptien..., art grec, art romain..., art du Moyen Age...’, 9th May 1952, lot 11, illus. pl.3

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