Lady Jane Franklin's Egyptian mummy mask to auction at Bonhams



2016-06-30 14:38:29

An Egyptian mummy mask once owned by the explorer Lady Jane Franklin will be sold at Bonhams next week.

The funerary mask, which dates back around 3,500 years, is amongst the star lots in a sale of ancient antiquities in London on July 7.

Lady Jane Franklin (1791-1875) was one of the most intrepid women of the 19th century. Born in London, she married explorer John Franklin in 1827, and travelled extensively before the couple journeyed to the colony of Tasmania in 1837.

When her husband's arctic expedition met an unknown disaster in 1845, Franklin dedicated the rest of her life to find out what had happened.

She organized several search and rescue expeditions - one of which discovered conclusive proof that her husband and his team had died in 1847 - and through her determination and finances, added greatly to the world's knowledge of the arctic regions.

Franklin was also a renowned collector of antiquities, and is believed to have acquired the mask on offer whilst visiting Egypt in 1834, when she journeyed down the Nile with her friend, the Rev. Rudolf Lieder.

Finely carved for a person of high status, the mask dates back to the New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, circa 1550-1295 B.C., and was likely discovered at one of the excavations at Saqqara, Abydos or Thebes.

As a stunning historic object, collected by one of the century's most pioneering female explorers, the mask will be offered at Bonhams with an estimate of $130,000 - $200,000.

"Private collectors of antiquities have always played a significant role in keeping the past alive," said Bonhams Head of Antiquities, Madeleine Perridge. "The knowledge and enthusiasm of people like Lady Jane Franklin and the Harer family have helped to preserve objects which might otherwise have been lost. We are pleased to be able to offer objects from such distinguished collections in our sale."  

Further treasures from the ancient world on offer will include a Roman marble sarcophagus carved with horned lion griffins, circa A.D. 200-250, estimated at $54,000 - $81,000; a Cycladic marble head, circa 2500-2400 B.C., valued at $34,000 - $47,000; a Roman marble portrait head of a man circa 1st Century B.C./A.D., estimated at $27,000 - $40,000; and an Egyptian gilt cartonnage mummy mask and trappings dating back to the Ptolemaic Period, circa 305-30 B.C., priced at $40,000 - $67,000.

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