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A Parcel-Gilt and Bronze Figure of King Menthuophis

Cast from a model by Émile-Louis Picault, circa 1880
The base inscribed E. Picault

28 ¼ in (70.6 cm) high

cf. Michael Forrest, Art Bronzes, 1988, p.90
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Émile-Louis Picault trained under Royer and exhibited a wide range of sculpture at the Paris Salons between 1863 and 1909. His Orientalist subjects are among his most popular works and follow the tradition of ethnographic-based artwork in France during the second half of the 19th century.

In the design of his Egyptian figures, Picault was inspired by ethnographic findings of the mid-19th century and caught up in 'Egyptomania', the popular vogue that flourished around the recreations of Ancient Egypt by the performing arts. In particular, Picault took direct visual quotes from the set and costume designs by Pierre-Eugène Lacoste for Giuseppe Verdi's Aida.

This figure represents an Egyptian noble, King Menthuophis. Queen Nitocris succeeded Menthuophis, either her husband or her brother, as ruler of Egypt following his murder around 2200 BC. Her six-year reign witnessed two important events: the completion of the third pyramid, and the dreadful revenge exacted upon the murderers of Menthuophis. In order to accomplish the latter, the Queen organised a banquet for all the accomplices in a specially constructed underground chamber. At the height of the feasting, the chamber was suddenly flooded with water brought from the Nile by means of a concealed pipe. Everyone drowned except for Nitocris, who escaped only to take her life in an ash pit, rather than face punishment.

Other bronzes by Picault feature in the collections of the Museum of Chambéry, 'Le Semur d'Idés'; The Museum of Clemont-Ferrard, 'Hebe' and The Museum of Maubeuge, 'Le Devoir'.