Bust of a Ptolemaic ruler

Hellenistic Period (Ptolemaic Dynasty)
2nd–1st century B.C.


Height x width x depth: 40.6 x 31.8 x 24.1 cm (16 x 12 1/2 x 9 1/2 in.) Brass mount: 20.3 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm (8 x 8 x 8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



This nearly life-size piece is identifiable as a king by the nemes head cloth and the uraeus snake at his brow. Probably a Double Crown, representing Upper and Lower Egypt was once inserted in the depression at the top of the head. The king’s oval face, sharp features and slight smile imitate the late Pharaonic style, as does the torso modeling. The king’s inlaid eyes and trapezoidal back pillar are characteristic of the early Ptolemaic Period. He probably represents Ptolemy II, a king who is represented in Classical Greek style on coins in our collection.


1968, acquired in London by Virgilio Vecchi [see note 1]; 1986, by descent from Virgilio Vecchi to Italo Vecchi, London; 2007, sold by Italo Vecchi, through Rupert Wace Ancient Art Ltd., London, to the MFA (Accession date: March 21, 2007)


[1] The bust was acquired from a collection said to have been formed in the 19th century.

Credit Line

John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund