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Work Horus

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs

Horus

© 2008 Musée du Louvre / Georges Poncet

Egyptian Antiquities
Religious and funerary beliefs

Author(s):
Aït-Kaci Lili

Originally, this bronze statue of the god Horus was covered with precious materials; inlays of glass or colored faience; and gilt coating or gold plate, to evoke the eternal indestructible flesh of the gods. These elements also concealed the joints between the various sections cast using the lost-wax technique. The statue has no text, but the style and craftsmanship date the work to the Third Intermediate Period.

Royal purification

This statue represents Horus in a hybrid form - a falcon-headed man - and was probably part of a scene that included three figures: Horus and Thot on either side of the king, pouring a purifying offering over him. Horus held the vase containing the ritual water in his raised hands; this vase is now missing.
The scene was sculpted in relief on temple walls, and metal or stone statues were arranged around it to perpetuate this rite, which was performed for the king during his coronation ceremonies and before he entered the sanctuary of the gods.

Techniques and materials

The statue, produced in several parts using the lost-wax bronze casting process, is hollow, as the clay core was removed. Inlays of glass paste or colored faience filled the eye sockets, the hair of the wig, and the folds in the kilt. Given the granular aspect of the metal surface, the nude sections of the body were probably gilded, to represent the indestructible flesh of the gods.
As early as the predynastic period, Egyptian craftsmen used copper, and later bronze, to create domestic utensils, weapons, jewelry, and statues. Their mastery of technique reached a peak during the Third Intermediate Period. They produced large numbers of statuettes - the ex-votoes presented by worshippers near their gods - in the workshops linked to the temples. Lost-wax bronze casting was the most common technique for these remarkable works, while solid casting was the preferred method for small, mass-produced figurines.

A body in keeping with artistic canons

The figure's shape fully complies with the artistic canons of the Third Intermediate Period: a slender, graceful and strong shape, with a long bust, highly placed pectorals, and narrow waist. It stands firmly atop long, muscular legs.
During this period, Egyptian bronzesmiths fully mastered all the techniques of their art. This statue of Horus is one of the greatest examples of their work.

Bibliography

Les Antiquités égyptiennes : guide du visiteur, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1997, p. 39.
Bovot Jean-Luc et Ziegler Christiane, Art et archéologie : l'Égypte ancienne, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2001, pp. 260-261 et fig. 156.
Manniche Lise, L'Art égyptien, Paris, Flammarion, 1994, p. 275.
Notice n 78, in Les Collections du Louvre, 1999, p. 89.
Pierrat-Bonnefois Geneviève, L'Égypte au Louvre, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1997, p. 11.
Ziegler Christiane, Revue du Louvre, 1996, p. 34.

Technical description

  • Horus

    Third Intermediate Period, 1069-664 BC

  • Metal alloy, lost-wax bronze casting

    H.: 95.5 cm; D: 39 cm

  • Purchased 1883

    E 7703

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Materials and techniques
    Room 7

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