Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Fragments of a Faience Chalice

New Kingdom
Dynasty 19–20
reign of Ramesses II
ca. 1295–1070 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926 (26.7.975a, b) Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1985 (1985.163.1)
Accession Number:
26.7.975a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406
Restored from fragments that came to the Museum separately in 1926 and 1985, this is part of a slender goblet with a flaring lip that would have sat on a tall stem. Like others of this type (see 26.7.291 for a complete example), the chalice echoed in its form the blossom of the blue waterlily, which opened its petals each morning at sunrise and thus became a symbol of creation and rebirth. The decoration, executed in high relief, enhanced this symbolism. The background is a watery marsh, the landscape of creation, filled with plants. A naked child, representing both the sun god and the king as his delegate on earth, wields a harpoon as he maintains order over the chaotic mass of wild creatures that inhabit this fecund environment. A band around the rim of the chalice is adorned with a line of waterfowl alternating with nests full of eggs, again a symbol of fertility and birth.
26.7.975a, b: acquired by Lord Carnarvon for his collection before 1923. Carnarvon Collection purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926. 1985.163.1: possibly among chalice fragments sold at Sotheby's, London [Macgregor sale 1922, lot 293]. Purchased at auction by the Museum, Sotheby's London [July 16, 1985, lot 159].

Tait, G. A. D. 1963. "The Egyptian Relief Chalice." In Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 49, pp. 104-105, pl. XV.

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