This is a very interesting bronze statuette that has a great provenance, that was published more than once and that was exhibited in a museum!
Depicted is the young Horus, sitting on what is the stylised representation of a lotus flower on a tubular stem. The god is wearing a chiton and his hair is braided with a lock of youth and a radiate headdress. His right hand is near his mouth, another indication of the god being a child, and his left hand is holding a cornucopia (horn of plenty) with a Horus falcon, a cobra and a sun disk.
On the front of the lotus is a protome of Sarapis flanked by two cobras.
The motif of the lotus is well known from ancient Egyptian creation myths, where the flower is associated with the sun, and from texts and images concerning the daily sunrise (which was seen as a daily re-creation). Quite often the young sun-god is depicted sitting on the lotus which emerges out of the water. Primarily he is Nefertem but he can also be called Horus, more specifically Harsomtus or Harpokrates.
Our object shows the influence of Egyptian and Greek/Roman mythology. The clothes the god is wearing are Greek, he is depicted in a hellenistic style, the radiate headdress identifies him with Helios and the cornucopia indicates that the god has power over vegetation and especially over food and abundance.
In Roman times Horus was often associated with Sarapis, as was his mother Isis; both could be represented as snakes, often with a human head. Sarapis was also connected to Helios. The son of Sarapis and Isis was Horus, usually in the shape of Harpokrates.
Depictions in bronze of the young god, similar to this one, can occasionally be found (a very close parallel is in the Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam), but very rarely do they show the quality that can be seen here.
Rheinischen Landesmuseum Bonn, Germany, 1973-1974.
Antiken aus rheinischem Privatbesitz: Ausstellung 9.11.1973 bis 13.1.1974 (Kunst und Altertum am Rhein, 48) (Bonn, Rheinischen Landesmuseum; Rheinland-Verlag, 1973), no. 235, pl. 104;
Fine Antiquities Including the Collection of the Late Wilhelm Horn (Egyptian and Classical Antiquites) (Christie's London, 11 December 1987), no. 181;
J. Eisenberg, The Age of Cleopatra: The Art of Late Dynastic Graeco-Roman Egypt (New York, London, 1988), no. 74;
Art of the Ancient World, Volume XII (New York, London, 2001), no. 325;
Götter, Menschen, Wesen, Katalog 14 (Basel, Jean-David Cahn AG, 2002), no. 9
A very close parallel can be found in the Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam (inv. no. 7998). This was published several times: Algemeene gids Allard Pierson Museum Amsterdam (Amsterdam, Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij, 1937), 630; Hendrika Christina van Gulik, Catalogue of the Bronzes in the Allard Pierson Museum (Amsterdam, Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij, 1940), p.47, no. 60; Mededelingen van de Vereniging van Vrienden vam het Allard Pierson Museum vol. 44, p. 21; Robert A. Lunsingh Scheurleer, Egypte, geschenk van de Nijl (1992), p. 168, fig. 138; Harco Willems – Willy Clarysse (eds.), Keizers aan de Nijl / Les Empereurs du Nil (Leuven, Peeters, 1999), p. 265, no. 193.
For the two gods see V. Tran Tam Tinh – B. Jaeger – S. Poulin, "Harpokrates" in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae IV (1988), 415-445; and G. Clerc – J. Leclant, "Sarapis" in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae VII, 1 (1994), 666-692.
For the child on the lotus see Sandra Sandri, Har-pa-chered (Harpokrates): die Genese eines ägyptischen Götterkindes (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 151) (Leuven, Peeters, 2006), p. 119-120; Hermann Schlögl, Der Sonnengott auf der Blüte. Eine ägyptische Kosmogonie des Neuen Reiches (Aegyptiaca Helvetica, 5) (Genève, Éditions de Belles-Lettres, 1977); Siegfried Morenz – Johannes Schubert, Der Gott auf der Blume. Eine ägyptische Kosmogonie und ihre weltweite Bildwirkung (Ascona, Verlag Artibus Asiae, 1954); Wolfgang Waitkus, "Die Geburt des Harsomtus aus der Blüte - Zur Bedeutung und Funktion einiger Kultgegenstände des Tempels von Dendera", Studien zu Altägyptischen Kultur 30, 2002, p. 373–394; Christian Leitz (Hrsg.), Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen, Volume 4 (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 113) (Leuven, Peeters, 2002), p. 223 s.v. Nfr-tm; for a further bibliography see Pieter Willem van der Horst, Chaeremon, Egyptian Priest and Stoic Philosopher: the Fragments Collected and Translated with Explanatory Notes (Études préliminaires aux religions orientales dans l’Empire romain, 101) (Leiden, Brill, 1984) p. 54, note 7 to fragment 4.
Hellenistic-Roman, circa 1st century B.C. - 2nd century C.E.
Height 19.2 cm.
Formerly in the collection Wilhelm Horn (1870-1959), purchased in Cairo, 1938. Wilhelm Horn was a banker from Berlin who travelled to Egypt several times between 1926 and 1938, where he bought many objects for his collection. He had ties with the archaeological and antiquities communities.
The object appears to be intact, with a lovely light green patina. There are a few tiny spots around the flower base that might indicate a very small amount of restoration, but this was done so well that it is almost impossible to tell. The same applies to the figure: it has a few very small areas which may have had a little restoration infill, but it is hard to tell. Also it could be possible that the figure has been reattached to the base, but if so it has been done so neatly that one simply cannot be sure. Overall in choice condition.