- Museum number
Upper part of standing figure with head; carved and polished mottled green dolerite; neck restored.
- Production date
- 2130BC (about)
Height: 78 centimetres
Weight: 150 kilograms (excluding base)
Width: 50 centimetres
Depth: 31 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- It is has been questioned as to whether the head and body were originally part of a single statue but the fact that both appeared together on the market at the same time suggests they do indeed belong. There is clear wilful damage to the left sie of the face relating to an ancient cancelling of the sculpture prior to its deliberate decapitation. The sculpture was described by H.R. Hall in the 'British Museum Quarterly' VI/2 (1931) page 31, at the time of acquisition, as being of "a dolerite of mottled green colour." There are traces of what appear to be yellowish material, possibly pigment, on some of the fingernails. Prior to its cleaning for re-exhibition in the Early Mesopotamian Gallery in 1991 it had assumed a distinctly black appearance, perhaps as a result of waxing in the 1930s. In a letter to Miss Bimson (Scientific Research) of 10th October 1974, A C Bishop (British Museum Natural History) identified the stone as a quartz dolerite. R H Wilenski, in his book 'The Meaning of Modern Sculpture' (Faber, 1932) pp 134-135, says, "Mr. Burney employed the sculptor Leon Underwood to model a neck in plaster, and the figure thus provisionally restored was studied by a number of modern sculptors in Mr. Burney's gallery. Later, the British Museum bought the statue with the aid of a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund. The Museum authorities have re-restored it with a diffferent neck and a wooden stand suggesting a full-length figure to resemble the full length so-called Portrait of Gudea in the Louvre." The statue remained on that stand until 1991. Cyril Bateman, Conservation Officer in the Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities until 1975, who came to the Museum in 1935, told us in January 2002 that he had no memory of any restoration of the statue during his time in the Museum. It therefore seems probable that the blackening of the statue was undertaken at the same time as its restoration in 1931/32. The photographs in British Museum Quarterly 6 presumably show the statue as reconstructed by Leon Underwood in 1930 (see also ILN for that year).
- On display (G56/od)
- Exhibition history
1991- BM, G56/Early Mesopotamia, ex-case
2003/4 Oct-Jan, London, Hayward Gallery, 'Saved!100 Years of the National Art Collections Fund', no.40.
2011, 22 Jan-10 Apr, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 'Modern British Sculpture'
2020 7-18 Mar and 1 Sep-1 Nov, Newcastle upon Tyne, Great North Museum: Hancock, Ancient Iraq
2022 26 Mar-19 Jun, Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham, Ancient Iraq
- Fair; head and body joined; fill toned in 2010
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Deposited on 14 July 1931 when the head was detached; reported to Trustees 4 July 1931 [CHECK]; see also I E Gejou's letter of 21 June 1930
- Middle East
- BM/Big number
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 0778 (NACF art review number)