Egyptian Faience Tile with cartouche of the Pharaoh Seti II
Egyptian · New Kingdom,19th Dynasty,ca. 1200-1194 B.C.
Dark blue and yellow faience
L: 4 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
This tile is in two fragments and is made of bichrome faience. It features a cartouche with ivory-colored hieroglyphs inlaid on a slate-blue ground and topped with double ostrich plumes, the full atef emblem (crown of Osiris), and the sun disk covered with yellow pigment. The piece is incised on the back with a motif resembling the head of Anubis, presumably the maker’s initial.
Though designated as tiles, many similar tiles are qualified as votive objects; this is due to the fact that the pieces were covered with glaze on all surfaces. The hieroglyphs indicate the name of the pharaoh Seti II, one of the last rulers of the 19th Dynasty, a period marked by court intrigues and short reigns. His throne name means “Powerful are the manifestations of Ra, the chosen one of Ra”. Little is known about his brief reign; he continued to build and to restore buildings in Karnak, the most important religious complex of ancient Egypt, where several of his portrait statues and statue fragments have been found. An analogous tile was presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1917.
Superficial surface wear. Chips on the bottom and the sides of the cartouche; top left corner of the atef emblem broken. Some yellow pigment missing from the sun disk. Slightly faded blue on the lower fragment with remnants of bitumen.
Art market, prior to 1907;
Ex- American private collection, acquired in Egypt in 1900-1907. With a handwritten letter from 1907;
Exhibited at San Diego Museum of Man, 1968, no. M218 and M219.
Faïences de l’antiquité: De l’Égypte à l’Iran, Paris, 2005, p. 81, no. 234; pp. 95-97.
FURNIVAL W.J., Leadless Decorative Tiles, Faience, and Mosaic, Vol. 1, Stone (Staffordshire), 1904, p. 44.
HAYES W.C., The Scepter of Egypt: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Vol. II, The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.), New York, 1959, p. 362.
RUSSMANN E.R., Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum, London, 2001, pp. 178-179, no. 90.