Circa: 664 BC to 525 BC
Dimensions: 7.5" (19.1cm) high
Style: 26th Dynasty
It is believed that some stucco works such as this one functioned as aids for apprentices to learn the art of sculpting before embarking upon royal commissions where one mistake could mean disaster. Similar pieces were unearthed in what are thought to have been artist workshops, thus their identification as models. Considering the stylization of Egyptian art, it is clear that there was not much room for individual interpretation. When one realizes that many sculptors would have been responsible for decorating a single tomb or temple, stylistic unity becomes a foremost concern. Today, these sculptures give us unique insight into the creative process behind some of the most endearing and enduring artworks ever created by mankind.
The lion is a symbol of strength and ferocity. The largest of the cat family, this animal is known as the “king of the beasts.” They are equally feared and respected for their power, speed, and intimidating growl. Kings and rulers have associated themselves with this noble creature since the days of antiquity. However, the lack of a bushy mane on this stucco work indicates that it represents a lioness. Therefore, it is probable that this head was a sculptor’s model employed during the manufacturing of Sekhmet sculptures.