Ivory figure of a hunchback


British Museum

British Museum

This skilful ivory carving shows the sad and huddled figure of a slave. He shows signs of dwarfism and a hunch-back, which may be symptoms of Pott's disease. His head drops, and his facial expression is melancholy. The figure is clearly intended to evoke a sympathetic reaction in the viewer. It is a typical example of the way in which Hellenistic art moved away from idealised representation, and took an interest in the characterization of the individual. The attempt to show personal experience and emotion was applied both in larger-scale sculpture, and in small figures such as this.

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  • Title: Ivory figure of a hunchback
  • Date Created: -99/-1
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 10.16cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Subject: ill-health/injury; physical condition
  • Registration number: 1814,0704.277
  • Production place: Made in Alexandria
  • Period/culture: Ptolemaic
  • Material: ivory
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Towneley, Peregrine Edward. Previous owner/ex-collection Townley, Charles


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