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Ivory figure of a hunchback

 

Height: 4.000 inches

Townley Collection

GR 1814.7-4.277

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)

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    On display: Room 22: Alexander the Great

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