NEW YORK, NY.-
On October 25, Christies
sale of Antiquities presents two important Egyptian portraits on behalf of the heirs of Rudolf Mosse. Hauntingly lifelike, these remarkable portraits, an Egyptian encaustic on wood mummy portrait of a woman, Hadrianic period, circa 2nd century AD (estimate: $150,000-250,000) and an Egyptian encaustic on wood mummy portrait of a bearded man, circa 1st century AD (estimate: $100,000-150,000), are among the most extraordinary artistic achievements to survive from antiquity.
Egyptian mummy portraits date from the mid-1st to the 3rd century AD, and while they have been found in many sites throughout Egypt, they were discovered most prominently in the Fayum, which provided the generic name for all such painted portraits. These mummy portraits from Roman Egypt are among the most remarkable survivors from the ancient world, providing insight into Romano-Egyptian burial customs as well as style and fashion trends from the 1st-3rd century A.D.
These works were originally part of the extraordinary collection of Rudolf Mosse (1843 1920), the founder of a successful publishing and advertising company in Germany, which included the flagship newspaper Berliner Tageblatt. Mosse was a patron of the eminent Egyptologist Karl Brugsch and it seems likely that the mummy portraits were acquired from him. Following his death, the collection was inherited by his daughter Felicia Lachmann-Mosse. Within months of Hitlers rise to power in 1933, the family was forced to flee Germany, and their publishing company, private assets and art collection were expropriated by the Nazi party. The art collection was plucked by prominent Nazi supporters, and subsequently disbursed by auction.
These portraits were acquired in 1934 by Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front, and bought in 1979 by the University of Zürich from his widow, the actress Paulette Goddard- Remarque. Research by the University of Zürich led to their repatriation in 2015 to the Mosse Art Restitution Project.