Back Pillar with Cartouche of Rameses II

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Back Pillar with Cartouche of Rameses II

1279-1213 B.C., 19th Dynasty, New Kingdom
H: 34.4cm



Schist fragment incised in deep relief with a cartouche bearing the pre-nomen, or regnal name of Ramesses II, commonly known as ‘Ramesses the Great’. This relief comes from the back pillar of a large figural statue of the King. Ramses the Great reigned from 1279 to 1213 B.C., allowing us to safely date this pillar to within this time frame.

It is thought that back pillars were utilised as a way of reinforcement, allowing stone statues to have the tall and slim profile of a standing human. Sometimes these pillars were left blank, either because the statue itself was to be placed in a niche or against a wall. However, they were also used as space for hieroglyphic text, often to identify the figure.  

Ramesses the Great, the third pharaoh of the powerful 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, has been hailed as one of the greatest pharaohs of all time. Responsible for building more great monuments than any other pharaoh, including at Karnak and Abu Simbel. His long reign is hailed as having brought Egypt into a golden age, and his funerary temple, the Ramesseum at the necropolis at Thebes, contained a massive library of some 10,000 papyrus scrolls. Upon his death, he was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, his body was later moved to a royal cache where it was discovered in 1881. It is now on display in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization


David Aaron Ltd, 2023, No. 31.


Previously in the Private Collection of Dr. Bruce L. Raston, Tuxedo Park, New York (d. July 1998), from at least May 1970 (accompanied by a slide of the relief dated May 1970, a photograph of the relief dated May 1972, a Sotheby’s appraisal dated 19th September 1979 & another dated 1987).
Thence by descent.
ALR: S00224410, with IADAA Certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database. 

Note on the Provenance

Bruce L. Ralston (d. July 1998) was a neurosurgeon in Middletown, NY, who was born in New Jersey. He was married to a Shirley Wadhams Ralston, with whom he had Lowell, Betsy and Diana. Shirley was president of Jean Lawrence Associates, dealers in rare books and antiques in Tuxedo Park, NY.