Human Figure Carrying a Duck
3.5 x 8.5 x 5.75 inches
Probably from Egypt 200-500 CE
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

This late antique Egyptian relief is the only relief in the Mayer Collection that features a human figure. Carved in deep relief, the male’s head is depicted in profile view facing the left, while his body is depicted frontally. His muscular left arm is reaching across his body to the right side where his hands hold a long- beaked bird, most likely a duck. This  body position where the body is moving forward and the head is turned back characterizes many of the reliefs in Mayer’s collection. The use of a running drill is evident in the small rounded hole that forms the male’s eye where a thick eyebrow spans across the top. Four holes depict his hair, the artist’s way of defining curly locks perhaps. One hole on the right side of the man’s chest is also visible. Underneath the man’s chest, we can see two indented lines most likely indicating chest muscles.

We see this same attention to detail in the lines indicating the feathers on the duck the man is holding. The duck’s head is turned to the left in profile, while its body is frontal, mimicking the body position of the man. Its long beak is touching the man’s left bicep. Here too, the running drill has been used to indicate the duck’s eye. Framing the right side of the relief, a tall plant form springs upward, its stalk reaching over the ducks as its leaves touch the hair of the male figure. The left side of the relief is badly damaged. It is impossible to identify with certainty what large form was orginially depcted to the left of the figure. To some of us, it looked like a plant form, perhaps similar to the one depicted on 1982.51; others wondered if it was another human figure. 

Madeline Rankowitz, Class of 2013, Majoring in Art & Art History