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Mummy Mask of Kay-neferwy

Mummy Mask of Kay-neferwy

Mummy Mask of Kay-neferwy

Mummy Mask of Kay-neferwy

Culture: Egyptian

Period: New Kingdom, 1550–1069 BC

Dynasty: Dynasty 19, 1295–1186 BC

Medium: plaster, linen, resin, glass, wood, gold, and pigment
21 1/16 x 14 9/16 x 9 3/4 in. (53.5 x 37 x 24.7 cm)
Credit Line: Friends Fund and funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Christian B. Peper, Mrs. Drew Philpott, the Longmire Fund of the Saint Louis Community Foundation, The Arthur and Helen Baer Charitable Foundation, an anonymous donor, Gary Wolff, Mrs. Marjorie M. Getty, by exchange, Florence Heiman in memory of her husband, Theodore Heiman, Ellen D. Thompson, by exchange, Dr. and Mrs. G. R. Hansen, Sid Goldstein in memory of Donna and Earl Jacobs, Friends Fund, by exchange, and Museum Purchase
Object Number: 19:1998
Place from:Egypt, Memphis, Saqqara
Classification: MASKS
Current Location:On View, Gallery 313
Notes:This mask has an extraordinary presence with its combination of glass inlaid eyes, gilt face with shimmering, almost lifelike translucence, and realistic wig. The craftsman who fashioned the wig out of thick resin carefully cut and modeled the plaits of hair in the latest style. The red "gold" coloring of her skin-a result of oxidation on the metal surface-may be purposeful or merely the product of the sulphurous fumes given off by the resinous wig. The band around her head, her eyes, and her nipples are inlaid with glass, surprising because glass was as costly and rare as the turquoise and carnelian for which it was substituted. The roughened surface of the mask's lips suggests they were once covered with a heavier gold foil. In each hand she holds a wooden amulet to signify strength and welfare. A delicate scene carved in relief on her arms shows her successful ascent into the afterlife on the boat of the Great God Osiris.
Provenance1951/1952 -
Mohammed Zakaria Goneim, excavated at Saqqara, Egypt [1]

by 1952 -
Unknown Dealer, Brussels, Belgium [2]

- early 1960s
Kaloterna Collection [3]

early 1960s -
Private Collection, Switzerland, acquired from Kaloterna collection [4]

by 1997 - 1998
Phoenix Art, S.A. (Hicham Aboutaam), Geneva, Switzerland, purchased from private collection [5]

1998/03/30 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Phoenix Ancient Art, S.A. [6]

[1] Excavated by Mohammed Zakaria Goneim, Keeper of the Antiquities of Saqqara, at Saqqara, during his first season (1951-1952) at the site [Goneim, Mohammed Zakaria,"Excavations at Saqqara; Horus Sekhem-Khet, the Unfinished Step Pyramid at Saqqara." Vol. 1. Cairo: Imprimerie de L'Institut Français D'Archéologie Orientale, 1957].

A letter from a scholar, dated December 12, 1999, indicates that the other objects from the Saqqara excavation group were displayed together in the Cairo Museum, suggesting that they were put on display right after Goneim's excavation. The scholar suggests that the mask was never displayed with the other excavated objects and was probably awarded to the excavator himself. This would correspond with its appearance on the European art market soon after its excavation [SLAM document files].

[2] In a letter dated February 11, 1997, Charly Mathez confirms that he saw the mask in a gallery in Brussels in 1952. According to a letter dated October 5, 1999, he did not remember the name of the gallery [SLAM document files].

[3] In a letter dated March 19, 1998, Hicham Aboutaam indicated that an anonymous Swiss collector acquired the mask from the Kaloterna (possibly Kaliterna) family. In a letter of July 2, 1997, addressed to Hicham Aboutaam, the Swiss collector stated that this acquisition took place in the early 1960s [SLAM document files]. The name "Kaloterna" may be a misspelling of the common Croatian name "Kaliterna." The Swiss collector also had an address in Croatia, and it is possible that the collector became acquainted with the Kaloterna (or Kaliterna) family there.

[4] See note [3]. The Swiss collector requested anonymity.

[5] The Swiss collector's letter of July 2, 1997 confirms the sale of the mask to Aboutaam [SLAM document files]. Aboutaam also states that the mask was in the United States from 1995 until 1997, possibly indicating that it was in the possession of the New York branch of Phoenix Ancient Art, S.A. during that time [letter, September 23, 1997, SLAM document files].

[6] Invoice to the Saint Louis Art Museum dated March 12, 1998 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, March 18, 1998.
Exhibition History
Title: Masks: Faces of Culture
Date: October 9, 1999 - September 17, 2000
Venue: SLAM
Venue: The Field Museum
Venue: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Title: Égypte: Moments d'éternité
Date: March 18, 1997 – January 11, 1998
Venue: Antiken Museum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig
Venue: Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Ville de Genève

Publication History
Title: Excavations at Saqqara: Horus Sekhem-ket -- The Unfinished Step Pyramid at Saqqara
Year Published: 1957

Title: The Discovery of a New Step Pyramid: A Third Dynasty Find at Sakkara
Periodical Title: The Illustrated London News
Edition: June 7
Year Published: 1952

Title: Art & Science Meld in Mummy Mask Restoration
Periodical Title: Saint Louis Art Museum Magazine
Edition: October - December
Year Published: 1999

Title: The Valley of the Kings
Year Published: 1957

Title: Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy, and Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt
Year Published: 1999

Title: The Lost Pyramid
Year Published: 1956

Title: Saint Louis Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection
Year Published: 2004

Title: The Art of Imaging
Periodical Title: Focal Spot
Edition: Spring
Year Published: 1999

Title: Collecting and Repatriating Egypt's Past: Toward a New Nationalism
Periodical Title: Contested Cultural Heritage. Religion, Nationalism, Erasure, and Exclusion in a Global World
Year Published: 2011

Title: The Cover
Periodical Title: Journal of the American Medical Association
Edition: October 28
Year Published: 1998

Title: Masks: Faces of Culture
Year Published: 1999

Title: The Buried Pyramid
Year Published: 1956

Title: Out of Egypt
Periodical Title: Riverfront Times
Edition: February 15, 2006
Year Published: 2006

In Collection(s)