Height: 4.000 inches
Room 22: Alexander the Great
Ivory figure of a hunchback
Hellenistic, about 1st century BC
Perhaps made in Alexandria, Egypt
This skilful ivory carving shows the sad and huddled figure of a slave. He shows signs of dwarfism and a hunch-back, which may be symptoms of Pott's disease. His head drops, and his facial expression is melancholy.
The figure is clearly intended to evoke a sympathetic reaction in the viewer. It is a typical example of the way in which Hellenistic art moved away from idealised representation, and took an interest in the characterization of the individual. The attempt to show personal experience and emotion was applied both in larger-scale sculpture, and in small figures such as this.
R.D. Barnett, 'Ancient ivories in the Middle East and adjacent countries' in QEDEM (Monographs of the Insti (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1982)