Sale, Sotheby and Co., London. 
From 1965 to 1966
Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981), purchased from Sotheby and Co., London in 1965. 
From 1966 to 1986
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. 
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, transferred from Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 
 See document from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, object file, Collections Management Office.
 See note 1.
 See note 1.
 See note 1. See also object file, Collections Management Office.
- Previous Owner(s)
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Joseph H. Hirshhorn
Head of a bearded male, of transluscent alabaster. Highly modelled, probably meant to be viewed only from the front. The facial features rendered in some detail. The eyes are modelled, with no pupil or eyebrows represented. The ears protrude perpendicular to the head, with some interior detail is incised into the ears for schematic rendering. The nose is straight, with nostrils indicated, and the mouth is represented by a thin grooved incision between the two modelled lips. The beard, which stretches from ear to ear, is represented as a semicircular ledge below the chin. The front edge of the beard is smoothed, but the bottom edge is not. The entire face rests in a smooth background field of the same stone.
The sculpture is in good condition, with some minor scratches on the otherwise smooth and polished front surface. The tip of the nose is broken, and the back surface is unfinished, with several heavy chisel marks. The top of the head, and the side and bottom edges of the fragment bear signs of heavy alteration and/or chiselling.
Numerous often stylized memorial portraits and "face plaques" have been excavated in the cemeteries of Southern Arabia, mainly in the Wadi Beihan and the area of the ancient Qataban Empire (modern Yemen) that flourished between the 5th century BCE and the 1st century CE. in the 19th and 20th centuries. Close parallels to this head are in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History where the remainder of the Hirshhorn collection is today. An updated bibliography on alabaster statues and fragments found throughout modern Yemen can be found in Sabina Antonini, and Mounir Arbach, La statuaria sudarabica in pietra. Rome and Paris (2001). This head stems most likely from the vast cemeteries of ancient Tamna.
- Published References
- Regine Schulz Giraud Foster. Faces of Ancient Arabia: The Giraud and Carolyn Foster Collection of South Arabian Art. Baltimore. .
- Sale Catalogue, June 25, 1991. New York, June 25, 1991. lot 156.
- Sale Catalogue, November 29, 1989. New York, November 29, 1989. lot 39.
- Paolo M. Costa. Pre-Islamic Antiquities in the Yemen National Museum. Rome. cat. 13.
- A. Falkry. A Collection of Alabaster Heads Found in the Store of the Guest House at Marib. vol. III. vol. 3, pl. XLIII.
- Ray L. Cleveland. An Ancient South Arabian Necropolis: Objects from the Second Campaign (1951) in the Timna' Cemetery. Publications of the American Foundation for the Study of Man, vol. 4 Baltimore. p. 7, pl. 14.
- Collection Area(s)
- Ancient Near Eastern Art
- Web Resources
- Google Cultural Institute
- Rights Statement
Copyright with museum