The Freud Museum

Photo Library

Metal figure of a porcupine with quills displayed on Freud's desk.
A memento of Freud's trip to the USA in 1909 with Jung and Ferenczi, thought to have been given to Freud by James Putnam.  It was apparently a joke amongst them that Freud went to America only to see a wild porcupine and just incidentally give some lectures on psychoanalysis. Freud incorporated Schopenhauer's use of the porcupine as a metaphor in describing the difficulties of group relationships. 


Carving depicting a woman meditating, with snakes scorpions and spiders.
Produced by one of the Balinese Master carvers of the 1930s, mostly likely Ida bagus Njana.  There are only two other carvers of the 1930s that could match Njana's skills: I Ketut Rodja and I Geremboeang. These were the master carvers of the Village of Mas, Bali, in the 1930s.  It depicts a woman meditating, possibly in a forest or a cemetery, and being tempted or haunted by myriads of poisonous creatures (snakes, scorpions and spiders) and evil spirits (shown as the "hand" and "limb" of the dwellers of the underworld).  These beings could have been real or a mere illusion of human minds enduring a frightening experience during the meditation process.  These experiences were studied by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson during their research into the Balinese psyche.  These American anthropologists were known to ask Balinese painters to draw their dreams and experiences of the unconscious mind.
With thanks to Soemantri Widagdo, Curator of the Museum Puri Lukisan, for providing additional information.


Small marble plaque bearing funeral inscriptions to Lucius Sempronius, once picked out in red. Two bronze rivets once secured it to a columbarium ride.  Immitican read 'L. SEMPRONIUS  LETHAEUS  ATRATINI . I . V . A . (CXIII)


Sigmund Freud's cigar case sat on his desk in his study, to the left of his writing material. This case has a hinged lid with map of France in relief in copper on the top.
The box was possibly a gift from Marie Bonaparte.  Freud had begun smoking when he was twenty-four following the example of his own father who had smoked until his death at eighty-one and he shared his enthusiasm with those around him. When his nephew Harry declined a cigar at age 17, Freud started as if thunderstruck. He paused and then, weighing his words carefully, admonished is nephew: 'My boy, smoking is one of the greatest and cheapest enjoyments in life, and if you decide in advance not to smoke, I can only feel sorry for you.'
Smoking cigars was Freud's primary addiction; he smoked twenty cigars a day.  In 1923 Freud was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, leading to sixteen years of treatment and thirty-six operations. Apart from a brief period of abstinence, Freud continued to smoke his cigars. Toward the end of his life, he was only able to smoke by forcing open his teeth with a clothes peg.
With thanks to Ro Spankie for providing additional information. 


Sigmund Freud's wedding ring, engraved with his wife Martha's name and the date of their marriage, 13 September 1886.
About the inscription on the box containing the wedding ring: Freud took the ring to his fiance in Hamburg in a matchbox; he had inscribed the matchbox lid with a poem from a famous anthology of German folk poems 'Des Knaban Wunderhorn' ('The Youth's Magic Horn'), famously used by Gustav Mahler. The poem, entitled 'When my Sweetheart is Married', is about a travelling journeyman's grief at losing his love to another.


This scholar screen stood directly in the centre of Freud's desk.  
The central design is the stylised Chinese character of shouldaning longevity, and both sides feature bunches of flowers shooting from the mouths of dragons. Given that ‘shou’ can also mean birthday, and that Freud was born in the year of the dragon, this might well have been a birthday present (perhaps even from Freud to himself).  
With thanks to Ro Spankie for providing additional information.


Lacquered figure of a Daoist sage or immortal with a hair beard and textile cap. The figure is seated on a rock and has finely articulated fingers.  The figure stands on a small card table to the right of Freud's desk.


Terracotta figure of Eros flying, hands uplifted, wearing himation (cloak) around hips.
Eros aroused desire, for people and for objects. Plato suggested love and desire are directed at 'what you don't have, what isn't there, and what you need.' Freud, lover of beautiful things, recognised the urge. This statue of Eros was an object of desire he had to possess. Not only did it epitomise Classical civilization and the new ideas Freud developed in relation to it but, equally, Eros was an item of pure aesthetic pleasure. Freud told Jung, 'I must always have an object to love'.
This large Eros has both arms raised, as if flying forward. Like Eros (Cat no 1), he is barefoot. The object tucked in his robe may be a box mirror - a mirror in two parts including a lid to protect the reflective part - or a rattle. His hair is arranged over an elaborate roll and falls in loose curls over his shoulders.
Though Freud made a catalogue of his art collection during the First World War, it was lost, so it is unknown where or when he bought most of his 2000 artworks.


Egyptian wood carving of three labourers, a plough, two oxen and  yoke.  Little is known about this object, though Freud collected a small number of similar Egyptian labourer statues in the same style.  Freud's habit of collecting a huge number of antiquities with little or no documentation to accompany them means that there are a large number of objects with no information attached to them. 


Ivory statuette of the Buddha with the figure seated in bhumisparsimudra position. Figure retains considerable amount of gold.
Although there are relatively few Buddhist items in the collection, their quality and interest is exceptional.  This figure depicts the familiar seated, earth-touching Buddha.  Freud refers to one of the Buddhas in his diary on 7 May 1934, the day after his birthday, so perhaps it was a gift to himself.


Phallic amulet with clenched fist and loop


This mumiform figure is of Wahibreemakhet.  The figure stands with striated tripartite wig and divine beard, hands on chest protruding through shroud.  There is a grasping pick, hoe and basket-rope over left shoulder at back.  Ten horizontal bands of text cover front and sides of torso.


Cast relief of a woman walking gracefully, known as the "Gradiva" [from an original in the Vatican Museum].
In 1907 Freud was alone on holiday in Rome.  On 24th September he wrote home: "Imagine my joy when after such long solitude I saw a dear, familiar face today in the Vatican; however the recognition was one-sided, for it was the Gradiva, high up on a wall."  Afterwards Freud acquired this plaster cast of the bas-relief in the Vatican.


This is a painted plaster mask from a mummy, in flesh tints with hair and eyes.  Details are picked out in black, with red paint used on the lips.  The mask has plaited locks, pedunculate earrings with sphere terminals and vestiges of re solar disc with blank uraei at top rear of head.
Rome's rule over Egypt began with the arrival of Octavian (later called Augustus) in 30 B.C.  Egypt's incorporation into the Roman empire led to a new fascination with its ancient culture. Obelisks and Egyptian-style architecture and sculpture were installed in Roman buildings and the cult of Isis, the Egyptian mother goddess, impacted the empire.Changes were also noticeable in Egyptian artistic and religious forms, as Egyptian gods were represented in classicized style. In Egyptian funerary art traditional idealized images gave way to ones accessorized with contemporary Greco-Roman coiffures and dress as influenced by fashions of the imperial court at Rome, and even panel portraits were painted in the illusionistic Greco-Roman style.
By the second century A.D., the economic and social changes in the country emerged more forcefully, gradually evolving as part of a larger pattern of change in the Roman empire that culminates in the Byzantine period.
Additional information from Susan Walker and M.L. Bierbrier  'Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt'  (London: British Museum, 1997)


Figure of a youthful Eros,  flying forward wearing a hood and chlamys over head.  
The god wears a pilos, a conical travelling hat made of felt or leather, over which is draped a chlamys which he opens to reveal his genitals. The mantle has traces of orange and red paint.
The site of Myrina was discovered at the mouth of the river that was the ancient Pythicos. Between 1880-1882, excavations by the French School at Athens brought to light about four thousand tombs, dating from the last two centuries BC.
Winged figures, often of Eros, were a speciality of Myrina. While they might be included in a tomb, many were bought for the decoration of private homes.


Figure of a youthful Eros, flying. The figure wears a fillet, chlamys and fluted boots.
This decorative figure wears a hair band or fillet, a chlamys and ornate fluted boots. A band crosses his chest, perhaps for carrying amulets. His curly hair is girded by a fillet on which leaves are arranged. His right arm is raised, his left arm and both feet are missing. The chlamys, a robe worn by men, was pinned on one shoulder. His wings are blue, as is the border of his chlamys.
These terracotta figures were buried with the dead. Many were broken, not by the excavators, but by those who placed them in the graves as a ritual of desanctification and to prevent their reuse.


Terracotta figure of a youthful Eros, with right leg forward.  This figure wears a cap and chlamys, which is drawn up to reveal genitals.
The god wears a pilos, which was a conical travelling hat made of felt or leather, as well as a chlamys which is wrapped around his upper body to reveal his genitals. His curly hair protrudes from the pilos. Boots were painted on his feet. His legs were once bright orange, as were his face and chest. His robe is blue and white.
The figurines were recovered from tombs. The tombs' contents could also include small bronze coins for Charon's fare, plates and bottles for the dead person's food and drink, mirrors, needles, lamps and other objects of daily use. Charon is the ferryman of the Underworld who takes the newly deceased across the river Acheron, a tributary of the river Styx which surrounds the Underworld. A coin was often placed in the mouth of the dead person, or in their tomb. Those who could not pay Charon's fee were condemned to wander the river's shores.


Hanukkah lamp with three animal medals and Hebrew letters in relief.
Unlike the lamps most commonly used today to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah in the West, which are designed for candles and generally stand on tables, the Freud lamp is oil burning and hangs on the wall.  The backplate is decorated with a large central roundel containing a griffin, which is flanked by two smaller roundels with rampant four-legged animals, apparently felines, the leftmost perhaps a spotted leopard or cheetah.  Below the roundels, the Hebrew inscription quotes a biblical passage most commonly found on medieval Hanukkah lamps:  For the commandment isa lamp, and the teaching is light.
The arcade below the inscription is supported by columns with square capitals and bases, with two rows of pierced holes above.  Along the bottom of the lamp are eight oil containers with rounded ends; on the far left is the shammash.  To kindle and oil lamp, the containers are filled with oil, and wicks are placed in the oil and lit.  The shammash on this lamp is unusual in that it is larger than the other oil containers.  This was done in order to fulfil the original function of the servitor: to safeguard against the use of the other eight sacred lights for the ordinary room illumination, as prescribed by Jewish law.  The apex of the backplate of the Freud lamp is missing, although the reaminder of two original holes for suspension can still be seen.  At some point, others were drilled through the top; most recently a modern wire was added to supsend the lamp.
[Additional information from Susan L. Braunstein in Sigmund Freud's Jewish Heritage (exhibition catalogue) State University of New York, Binghampton, and Freud Musuem, London.]


Figure of Vishnu seated under the five-headed cobra Sesha, with a Sanskrit dedication to Freud on a brass plaque attached to the sandalwood base. The figure was a gift to Freud from the Indian Psychoanalytic Society.
Vishnu is one of Hinduism's major deities and represents healing. Sitting on a five-headed serpent that represents the universe, in his hands he holds his attributes: a lotus flower, club, discus and conch. Freud stated 'As long as I can enjoy life it will recall to my mind the progress of psychoanalysis, the proud conquests it has made in foreign countries, and the kind feelings it has aroused in some of my contemporaries at least'.
Hilda Doolittle mention that during her second session Freud  'took the ivory Vishnu with the upright serpents and canopy of snakeheads, and put it in my hands'. She recalls it both 'compelled me, yet repelled me at the same time' reminding her of 'a half flower cut lengthwise', a 'half-lily' with Vishnu as the erect stamen and the cobras as the petals. It was a symbol of both virginity and fertility, and also a double male image of immense but threatening power. 'Did he want to find out how I would react to certain ideas embodied in those little statues, or how deeply I felt the dynamic idea still implicit in spite of the fact that ages or aeons of time have flown over many of them?', H.D asks.
Information from Ro Spankie, 2014, 'An Anecdoted Topography of Sigmund Freud's desk'


Bronze standing statuette of goddess Bastet holding a cat headed aegis.
Bastet stands on a bronze base (approximately 1.3 cm in height) under her feet and is fixed to a decorative square wooden base.  She wears a long, decorated tight-fitting dress.  On the proper left foot there is a hole in the bronze by the ankle (approximately 2 mm in height).  The feet are human form and bare showing the toes.  The dress is decorated with vertical stripes of alternating annuele and herringbone design.  Her right arm is bent at the elbow and raised in front of her.  Her right hand is in a grasping position and would have held a sistrum (ritual rattle); however, this is now missing. 
Freud is said to have broken this piece.  Bastet was a daughter of the sun-god Re and had two personalities.  She was a peaceful creature but could easily become enraged and violent.


Figure of  Zeus/Jupiter holding a thunderbolt in his right hand.  He may have once have held a spear in his left hand, though this is now missing.
In Greek mythology Zeus was king of the gods, while Jupiter was his Roman etymological equivalent. He presided over the sky, whilst his brothers Poseidon/ Neptune and Hades/ Pluto presided over the sea and underworld.


Aphrodite was known as Venus to the Romans. She was the Greek goddess of love and famous for her beauty. Freud's figure is a Roman copy from famous classical Greek Aphrodite.
Here she stands in a relaxed position, her left foot just behind her right. Her head is turned slightly to the left; in her right hand she holds out a strand of her hair, while in her left hand she holds a mirror into which she stares. This Venus, holding a mirror, recalls Freud's notion that women are characterised by narcissism. The woman's cathexis of her whole body and her desire for it to be beautiful, he believed, was an attempt to compensate for the lack of phallus ('Sigmund Freud and Art', 1988).
The number '75' in red paint on her plinth links her to the catalogue Freud started to compile in 1914. 
Additional information from Ro Spankie, 2014, 'An Anecdoted Topography of Sigmund Freud's desk'


Known as Hermes to the Greeks and Mercury to the Romans, he is the messenger god. In his right hand he holds a pouch or moneybag, in his left there is a stump which must have held the 'kerykeion', a short herald's staff entwined by two serpents. The winged cap and sandals are also characteristic of Hermes, helping him in his role as messenger of the gods. He is linked to language and speech, and to the Egyptian god Toth.


Bronze Luristan animal finial of two standing lions facing each other.
The centre of the figure is hollow and the two animals are outstretched, connected by the paws of the hind and forelegs. They face inwards as though they are looking at each others' faces.  The eyes are represented by two larger, and raised, circles at the top of the heads.  The design shows folds in the skin on the heads of the animals, possibly to represent where the mouths are opened so wide.  The finial swivels on the base making it unstable for handling.        
This type of animal finial is more rare compared to others and it is also in relatively good condition.  However, because many are not known (i.e. legally excavated) it could be that this example was looted from a site, possibly in Iran.  For this reason it may have been bought from a dealers around the first few decades of the 20th century when many were starting to apper on the market.


Bronze Luristan standard finial representing 'master of animals' with a man restraining two lions facing outwards.
The hind legs and bottom of the animal are prominent and the tails of both animals curl into an open hole sprial at the ends.  The heads have protruding circular eyes in the middle and the ears are small protruding lumps at the top of the head nearest to the centre of the finial.  Around the shoulders of the animals are thin bent arms raised from the main body that end in 3-clawed feet.  The inside of the hollow finial is encrusted with white deposits.
Luristan standard finials have been interpreted as deity standards, household cult figures, idols, totems, talismans, chariot-pole tops. Aside from the fact they have been found deposited in burials, there is no evidence for their meaning. The more elaborate type may have evolved from the group with heads alone. Since the central figure is clearly more prominent, it may represent a deity.


Stone Zuni animal figurine wrapped in a thin leather brace with various amulets attached.  The animal possibly represents the bear (protector of the west).   There are 2 smaller figures of animals (possibly also bears) at either side of the tooth-like stone.  
Prey gods were guardian animals of the different regions of the 'world'.  The four prey gods are the lion (protects the north), the bear (protects the west), the red badger (protects the south) and the wolf (protects the east).  There was also an eagle that protected the sky.  Each prey god is the "guardian and master" of their region with the yellow mountain lion being the elder brother of all animals and the master and guardian of all regions. These guardians are considered as having protective and healing powers.  It is thought that Freud's sculpture was a gift.


Black stone canopic jar stopper in the form of a falcon's head (representing Qebesenuef) wearing a flared striated wig and collar placed on a rectangular wooden base. 
Canopic jars were used to house four bodily organs after death.  It was thought that the deceased would require them again in the afterlife and so during mummification the liver (protected by the human-headed Imsety), lungs (protected by the ape-headed Hapy), stomach (protected by the jackel-headed Duamutef), and intestines (protected by the falcon-headed Qebehsenuef) were removed and placed in their respective jars ready to be used again in the afterlife.  The heart was left inside the body as the ancient Egyptians believed that humans thought with the heart (as it was seen as the seat of emotion and memory) and this was needed for the 'Weighing of the Heart' ceremony in order to be granted successful passage into the afterlife.  The brain was in fact broken down and discarded during the mummification process.  From around the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1070- 712 BC) these organs were returned to the body after being treated with natron; however, empty canopic jars were sometimes placed with the deceased as the for protectors were still believed in.


Female figure of Baubo naked except for headdress, with spread legs with right hand pointing to displayed genitals.
Baubo lies on her back, her legs spread, her genitals exposed. Freud recognised the ancient power invested in the display of female genitals. In 'A Mythological Parallel to a Visual Obsession', he explores Baubo's significance.
In Greek myth, Baubo was a goddess of childbirth and fecundity, a ribald character symbolising humour and light-heartedness in the face of trouble, as well as sympathetic female bonds. When Demeter's daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, the lord of Hell, Demeter desperately searched for her. Exhausted and dispirited, Demeter rested at Eleusis, where she was entertained by Baubo with some lewd jokes and lascivious dancing. 'Thereupon', Freud continues, 'Baubo made (Demeter) laugh by suddenly lifting up her dress and exposing her body.'       
The female with spread legs first appears in images from West Asia in the second millennium BC. though the posture was already used in Neolithic times to suggest birth, a source of sexual potency, even the origins of  all life. Baubo is a wild, unrestrained being who represents aspects of the feminine that are both confronting and profound.


This red-figured Column Krater is from Apulia in southern Italy. A Column Krater is a large bowl for mixing wine and water. Both the Greeks and the Romans mixed their wine with water: it was regarded as the mark of a barbarian to drink wine neat.
During the 5th century BC., during the decline of Athenian vase exports, Greek potters emigrated to the Greek colonies in southern Italy and Sicily, an area often known as 'Magna Graecia' [Great Greece]. Ceramic production was very popular and the manufacture of Southern Italian vases reached its zenith between 350-320 BC.
This may be a wedding scene with Eros representing the husband of the bride. Eros is shown carrying a firebrand, his traditional symbol to inflame the heart with love. In his right hand, he carries a bucket to douse the fire. On the firebrand is an olive wreath worn by brides in ancient Greece. His decorative headdress, longish hair and slightly feminised body, with small breasts and penis, give him a somewhat androgynous appearance. The bride also wears a headdress plus earrings and a necklace. The folds of her robe are beautifully rendered. Above the bride's right hand is a mirror and a cista (a casket for holding jewels and perfumes) and, below her hand, a tambourine.  In her left hand, she holds a thyrsus, associated with Dionysus, and with the maenads, his priestesses, who carried it during their drunken revelries in honour of the god. A thyrsus is a giant fennel stalk topped with a pine cone, a ceremonial phallic symbol of fertility.


Aphrodite stands confidently, her right arm leaning on a pillar, her left hand on her hip. She is naked to the waist, her himation, a robe worn by women, is tucked over her hips. She wears a polos, the headdress of a goddess. Traces of rose madder can be seen on her himation.
In the early 1870s, at Tanagra, a site in Boeotia in central Greece, thousands of similar figures were excavated, many from graves. The most common were standing female figures notable for their elegant drapery and casual stance. 'Tanagras', as they became known, were popular throughout Europe in the 19th century.
The Tanagra figures were a mould-cast type of terracotta made by Koroplasters, sculptors of the models that provided the moulds. Before firing, the figures were coated with a liquid white clay known as slip. After firing, they were brightly coloured in a naturalistic manner with water-soluble paints. 'Red was used for hair, lips, shoes, and accessories, and black marked eyebrows, eyes, and other details. The flesh was painted a pale orange pink, and a reddish purple made from rose madder often was used for the drapery. Blue was used sparingly, as the pigment was expensive.'


Painted plaster mask from male mummy.  Black paint detail around eyes made of polished stone. Ring sundisc on backside – typical for Roman period masks.
Roman period Egypt: Rome's rule over Egypt officially began with the arrival of Octavian (later called Augustus) in 30 B.C., following his defeat of Marc Antony and Cleopatra in the battle at Actium. Augustus, who presented himself to the people of Egypt as the successor to the pharaohs, dismantled the Ptolemaic monarchy and annexed the country as his personal estate.  
The term ‘mummy mask’ refers to the whole covering of a mummy – the head, chest, arms, and the two side covers.  There was nothing underneath, it just sat atop the body.  This mask is just the head. The faces of the masks were moulded in workshops, generally located near to the cemeteries or necropolises, but all other detail were hand-crafted and painted.  Only way real way to date these masks is by comparing hairstyles.  Most resemble the Roman Emperors or Empresses of the time, so we can date them by whose hairstyle they are modelled on.  Other details of the periods we know very little about, i.e. clothing, jewellery, so it is difficult to date artefacts using these details.  This mask has a ring sun-disc on its back side, i.e. the back of the head. This was typical for Roman era mummy masks, as many displayed images of hawks, winged scarabs, or vultures – all with wings representing the soul which could fly away from its tomb to visit the living or to heaven


T'ang dynasty statuette of a woman in robes holding a pot.  This figure stands on Freud's desk alongside a number of other Chinese antiquities.


This figure is the central portion from a sistrum or ritualist rattle, embelished on either side with a full face representation of the cow eared goddess Hathor.  The goddess is  flanked by uraei, wearing lappeted wig and broad collar.


Fayum mummy portrait of man with curly hair and beard.  
This portrait acted as a ‘death mask’ to be bound to it subject after he was mummified.  Wealthy Egyptians were embalmed and buried with many possessions to use in the afterlife.

The purpose of the masks was to preserve the deceased’s image after death.  Often the portraits would be painted during a person’s lifetime and displayed in the home for use after death.  Though this sounds morbid to us, it often meant that subjects were immortalised at their most youthful and attractive.  The vivid colours are made from hot beeswax mixed with coloured pigments painted onto a wooden board.

The man’s identity will remain a mystery to us.  Sigmund Freud bought this painting from the Austrian art dealer Theodor Graf.  In the late 19th century Egyptian artefacts became fashionable collectables in Europe, making Victorian explorers and ‘tomb raiders’ race to uncover new artworks and treasures.


This wood and bamboo headrest crafted by the Murik people of the Sepik river in North-East New Guinea is a unique example art from New Guinea in Freud's collection.  It is not know how Freud came to acquire this interesting piece, but it stood for many years atop his case of Greek antiquities, first in his study in Vienna and later in his study in London.


Bronze statuette of standing Egyptian goddess Neith wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. 
Given to Freud by Sergei Pankejeff, the 'Wolfman', who said it 'symbolized my analysis with Freud who himself called me "a piece of psychoanalysis"'.  Neith is seen in the 1914 Max Pollack etch in the far right corner of the desk. In pre-dynastic times Neith was an androgynous creator God. Later she assumed female characteristics and became the mother of Ra the sun god. Freud understood this transformative quality and saw his Neith as both phallic and female and connected to Hathor and Isis, and as a predecessor the Greek warrior goddess Athena. In the 1920s the figure was seen on Anna Freud's desk, perhaps because of her association with weaving (a weaver of the universe, of time and space) as weaving was Anna Freud's favourite craft. However by 1938 in Engelmann's photograph she had returned to Freud's desk.
Additional information from Ro Spankie 'An Anecdoted Topography of Sigmund Freud's Desk', 2014


Ceramic funerary figure of a female courtier that would originally have been
coloured and traces of an ochre glaze are visible on her lips, arms and folds of her
dress. Chinese burials of the Tang Dynasty included ceramic models, such as this
one, to act as servants in the afterlife as it was believed that the spirit would need
what the body had when it was alive in order to continue in the afterlife.

Freud noted in his diary ‘Coloured Chinese woman’ on 17 March 1933, which
possibly refers to this female figure. Certainly she was acquired before her two
neighbours as she can be seen in Edmund Engelman’s 1938 photographs of the desk. Of the three she is the only one with a base.
Additional information from Ro Spankie 'An Anecdoted Topography of Sigmund Freud's Desk', 2014


This figurine of Osiris with attendant has a hieroglyph inscription on the backrest with the name of the donor Padiwesir and the name of the reigning King Psammetichus I (26th Dynasty, c.600BC).

X-rays have shown this sculpture has been created using two different statuettes. The head of Osiris is not original and has been fitted to the front torso with a metal pin. Like the Romans who copied the masterpieces of Greek art, Freud seemed content with the idea of owning a copy.  However, he valued authenticity and strived to rid himself of fakes and forgeries. Antique dealer Robert Lustig recalled that when Freud discovered a fake, he would not keep it.
This figure of Osiris was described by Demel as ‘ausgezeichnete arbeit’ (‘excellent work’). This does not necessarily imply that Demel was dishonest about the authenticity of the piece, but rather suggests that the authentication process in the early 20th century was less accurate than today. Freud was, it should be stressed, an amateur collector, who was in possession of several fakes and forgeries, which have only come to light recently. 

Freud occasionally mentions acquisitions in his diary. His entry for 3 March 1936 reads: ‘Osiris group from Alex’, indicating the figure was a gift from his younger brother Alexander.
Additional information from Ro Spankie 'An Anecdoted Topography of Sigmund Freud's Desk', 2014


This seated figure of an Egyptian king wearing a short kilt and striated tripartite wig is lacking its uraeus, the sacred cobra mounted onto the front of the headdress worn by pharaohs. Also apparently missing are a crook and flail which it probably held in its hands. The catalogue notes ‘monitor left hand side for bronze disease’.
Edmund Engelman’s 1938 photographs of Freud’s office in Vienna show that the statuette once stood on a side table next to the main desk alongside Imhotep,  two seated Egyptians flanking a Chinese figure and a tray containing smoking utensils. In Freud’s London office, however, the King was placed on the main desk, indicating that the arrangement of Freud’s antiquities was stable but not static. See Object 33 for other figure of a king.
Information from Ro Spankie, 2014, 'An Anecdoted Topography of Sigmund Freud's desk'


Cylinder seals were developed in southern Mesopotamia as a more efficient successor to stamp seals. Such seals were used to mark ownership and authorize documents. They often have a hole drilled through the centre so that they could be hung from a cord around the neck, making them both utilitarian and decorative.
This seal is made up of two registers. The upper portion depicts a man protecting his herd from predation, a duty that fell to the leader of a community. The lower register is most likely a scene of an agricultural ceremony. Two longer haired female figures, presumably priestesses, oversee three smaller figures who carry sacks of grain. As farming was main source of subsistence, scenes of animal husbandry and agrarian festivals were popular subjects in Near Eastern art of this period.


During the nineteenth and eighteenth centuries B.C. in Babylon, cylinder seals, which acted as a signature, became more necessary due to the increase in legal, administrative and scribal activity.
The scene on this seal depicts an offering to the Babylonian bearded sun god, represented by his animal attribute and the saw-toothed blade that he uses to cut through the eastern mountains at dawn, bringing daylight. A king presents him with an animal offering, while a suppliant goddess with raised arms intervenes on behalf of the owner of the seal. On the far left stands a priest with a cup and small bucket in his hands. Slight traces of an inscription are visible, and suggest erasure, possibly by a second owner.
Seals are generally carved in reverse, and are only properly viewed when rolled out. Freud had about twenty cylinder seals in his collection, and he occasionally enjoyed making clay impressions with them.


This small figurine is typical of a Middle Bronze Age group of figures, both male and female, found in the Orontes Valley in central Syria. Gender is differentiated by proportions of the body, headdress, and in some cases by breasts or pubic triangles on female figures. This figure is distinguishable as female due to the proportion of the hips and the elaborate headdress with piercings, which may have once had metal rings through them.
Experts are unsure of the exact function of such figures. However, they are unlikely to be fertility figures due to their lack of exaggerated sexual anatomy. Many figurines of this type have been found in domestic settings in close association with model beds, chariots, and carts. This suggests that the Orontes Valley figures, including the one in Freud’s collection, may be ornaments or playthings.


The fragmentary statue depicts a mother-son dyad. On the right is the deified Amenophis I, holding a flail, a common attribute to depictions of Egyptian pharaohs. His companion is his mother, Ahmose-Nofretiri, who wears a vulture headdress. Ahmose-Nofretiri was important to Amenophis I’s rule as both his mother and the God’s Wife of Amun, a prominent political and religious position occupied only by queens. After their deaths, the two were worshipped as the divine patrons of the necropolis in Thebes, and were especially popular among the necropolis workers, who lived in a village nearby.
The pair was buried in a shared tomb, built initially for Ahmose-Nofretiri and expanded for her son. This tomb was excavated by Howard Carter from 1913 to 1914, and Freud, who often read excavation reports, certainly would have known of its discovery. Freud’s small statue probably comes from a domestic shrine. Freud may have been intrigued by the mother-son burial arrangement and its connection to his own Oedipus complex theory.


This bronze head, broken from a hollow-cast statue, is the god Osiris. Osiris, originally a fertility god, eventually became known as ruler of the underworld and god of resurrection. Just as the pharaoh was seen as the embodiment of Horus in life, he was associated with Osiris after his death. This connection between Osiris and the afterlife was later applied to all Egyptians, making him an extremely popular deity. Osiris’s affiliation with the life cycle may have made him particularly of interest to Freud, who was deeply fascinated with the Egyptian beliefs about life and death.
Freud’s bronze head is identified as Osiris by his usual atef crown, which is the white crown of Upper Egypt and red plumes. A now headless uraeus, the sacred cobra of Egypt, adorns the crown. The head would have been further decorated with a beard and inlaid eyes. Because of its rich decoration, the head was probably a cult figure or an offering to the god from a wealthy worshipper.


Although damaged, this New Kingdom statue is finely carved, with clear delineation of ears, eyebrows, and cosmetics around the eyes. It depicts a pharaoh, possibly Amenophis III, wearing the nemes head cloth surmounted by the double crown of united Upper and Lower Egypt. A falcon representing the sky, sun and war god, Horus, sits behind the crown with its wings bent in protection. Such a physical representation of the god’s protection is unusual.
Amenophis III, father of Akhenaten and grandfather of Tutankhamun, was one of the most powerful kings in the 18th Dynasty


This bronze statue is of Imhotep, a deified statesman from the 3rd Dynasty (2705-2640 B.C.). Although today he is best known as the architect of the Stepped Pyramid for King Djoser at Saqqara, in his own time he was greatly regarded as a sage. Later in antiquity he became known as a healer and magician, and was fully deified as the son of Ptah, god of craftsmen. Upon the arrival of the Greeks, he became associated with Asklepios, the Greek god of healing. Freud refers to Asklepios in context with the healing power of dreams, and would have been aware of Imhotep’s connection to his Greek equivalent.
Although it bears no inscription, this figure is identified as Imhotep by its close fitting cap and unrolled scroll of papyrus. It is seated, and would have originally been seated in a throne.


Amon-Re is depicted here in human form with his characteristic crown with plumes and large solar disk. Initially just a creator god, Amun, he was later associated with the sun god, Re. Amon-Re was one of the most important Egyptian gods. As a result, the king became known as the son of Amun and the royal mother as the wife of Amun.
Two huge temples dedicated to Amun stand in Luxor and Karnak, near Thebes, the city of Amun. Other monuments to this god are spread throughout Egypt and its frontiers, demonstrating his prominence and popularity. When the Greeks arrived in Egypt, they equated Amon-Re with Zeus, their king of the gods.


This bronze figure portrays the Egyptian god Ptah, who is presented with his usual attributes: close-fitted cap, broad collar, and square-edged false beard. His hands extend from within his robes, grasping a sceptre. Ptah was a local god to the city of Memphis, a royal residence and the administrative centre of Egypt. The Memphites believed that Ptah, the god of craftsmen, had created the world through thought and speech alone. In Greece he was associated with Hephaistos, god of craftsmen and the forge.
The green colouring on the figure, called a patina, was produced by the oxidation of bronze over time. The makers of this statue used the lost wax technique, a process for casting bronze by which a wax model is carved and then covered in clay. As molten bronze is poured into the clay mould, the wax melts away and is “lost”.


In Egypt the sphinx was believed to be a guardian and was closely associated with the pharaohs, as is evidenced by the great sphinx of Giza that was built to protect the pyramid of King Chephren (4th Dynasty, 2640-2520 B.C.). With the body of a lion and the head of a man, the sphinx combines brute force and human intellect, making it an intimidating adversary to any attackers.
Although male figures are slightly more common, sphinxes were represented as both male and female. This sphinx is female. The loop on the back of the neck indicates that it was meant to be hung by string, perhaps as an ornament to ward off evil spirits.


Despite the now worn-through suspension ring, this vulture amulet was probably used as a votive offering. The Egyptians associated vultures with several gods. Mut, the Egyptian word for mother, is represented with a vulture symbol in hieroglyphics. The goddess Mut, one of the maternal guardians of the pharaoh, is typically depicted as a woman with a vulture headdress. Because of this, Freud’s vulture is more likely Nekhbut of Elkab, the principal tutelary goddess of Upper Egypt, who is represented by an actual vulture rather than a headdress.
In one of Freud’s texts, he analyzed the Egyptian concept of a vulture as a symbol of motherhood, and the androgynous features Mut sometimes took on.


Here the goddess Isis is represented with her vulture headdress surmounted by the horned disk of her close associate, the cow-headed goddess Hathor. Isis, goddess of life and fertility, is above all associated with wifely and motherly virtues. After the murder of her husband Osiris, Isis hid among the marshes and gave birth to Horus, protecting him so that he may one day avenge his father’s death. Horus is depicted here as his child form, Harpocrates. As is standard in Egyptian art, he appears to be a miniature adult, his youth instead revealed through his nakedness.
As mother of Horus, Isis was also mother to the pharaoh, which boosted her popularity especially in later periods and under Roman rule. Many see the form of Isis suckling Horus, or Isis lactans, as a predecessor of the Christian Madonna and child image.
This bronze statue was a favourite of Freud’s, and it had a special place on his desk. He bought it from Robert Lustig who acquired it from a country shopkeeper selling it as junk.


At the top this round-topped stele bears the winged solar disk of Horus, the sun god. Below this, on the main register, is a scene depicting a king offering the hieroglyphic symbol for field to four gods: the sky god Amun with two vertical plumes crowning his head; his consort Mut wearing the double crown of Lower and Upper Egypt; Khonsu, the moon god and son of Amun and Mut, wearing a crescent and new moon orb; and the falcon-headed Horus of Mesen, a solar deity.
From the inscription on the lowest register we know that the king is Ptolemy, the general of Alexander the Great who took control of Egypt after Alexander’s death, later declaring himself pharaoh. Around this time Ptolemy, in an attempt to gain the favour of his new, non-Greek subjects, returned large tracts of confiscated land to the native Egyptian priests.


Thoth, the ibis-headed god of the moon and intellect, was often represented as a seated baboon. The Egyptians believed the baboon was the spirit of Thoth. The orb crowning his head represents the crescent moon. After death, the Egyptians believed that Thoth, because of his scribal duties, was in charge of the scale in the Weighing of the Heart, a ceremony in which the deeds and virtues of the deceased were judged. This small statue was probably an offering during the Classical Period, when Thoth increased in popularity due to his association with the Greek messenger god, Hermes.
Freud would have been interested in the conflict between animal instinct and human intellect in Thoth’s representation as a baboon. In much of his work, Freud sought to examine the influence of instincts, such as sexuality and aggression, on the expression of intellect.


This falcon-headed figure is a nineteenth century forgery, probably meant to be Horus, god of the sky and protector of the pharaoh. In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud analyzes a dream from his childhood involving falcon-headed men. Freud would have come across depictions of Egyptian deities in his father’s first-edition copy of the Philippson’s Bible, which contained German and Hebrew texts along with over 600 images, several of which had Egyptian subjects.
Forgeries of this type are still manufactured today in Egypt, and make use of traditional methods and sometimes ancient materials. Forgeries of ancient Egyptian artefacts go back to the seventeenth century, but a great number of them appear in the nineteenth century after Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt in 1798, and the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs by J.F. Champollion in 1822. Tourism to Egypt became increasingly popular during this period, bringing many false artefacts back to Europe.


Typically represented nude with a close fitted cap, Pataikos is a dwarf divinity. Pataikos, the Greek translation of Ptah-Sokar, is in Egypt considered a manifestation of Ptah, the local creator god of Memphis. For the Memphites, he was a common household deity, and was often the subject of amulets like Freud’s.
In ancient Egypt, dwarfs were a part of both religious and court life, sometimes achieving relatively high status. The Pataikos amulet in Freud’s collection is made of Egyptian faience, which consists of a ground quartz core and a blue-green alkaline glaze.


This sunken relief depicts a court official with arms raised in adoration, a typical scene found on the doors jambs of tomb chapels. The relief displays the Amarna art style of the reigns of Kings Akhenaten and Horemheb. Under the reign of Akhenaten, Egyptian religion changed to worshipping Aten above all other gods, making Akhenaten extremely unpopular and seen as a heretic. With the new religion came a new art style characterized by less idealized, but still highly stylized, figures.
The Freud relief, however, is a modern forgery. Many of the details do not quite match Amarna characteristics such as the proportions of the body and the wig. Both the back and left side have been cut in modern times, and are too neatly done to be from blocks hastily reduced in size for the art market. This high quality fake may have been done by the Berlin Forger, Oxan Aslanian, who was working around the time Freud was acquiring objects.


This fragmentary figure of a woman was once part of a group statue, probably a pair meant to represent her and her husband. Such a statue would have been used for funerary purposes. Small mortuary statues were made in mass quantities and the owner’s name was inscribed or painted on after purchase. They thus represent an ideal rather than an individual portrait. The finely-modeled, ageless face with broad nose, wide-set eyes, and tripartite wig resembles portraits of kings and queens, suggesting that the general populace sought to imitate royal style.


This heart scarab was once used Egyptian funerary rituals. The scarab beetle, which lays its eggs in dead matter from which life later springs forth, was connected with the concept of rebirth and resurrection. As a result, scarab beetles had a special place in mortuary ceremonies, often in the form of amulets which would be wrapped within the bandages around the heart during mummification.
In the afterlife, ancient Egyptians believed that there was a Weighing of the Heart ceremony in which the deeds and virtues of the deceased were measured, deciding whether he would go to the underworld with Osiris or be thrown to ‘the Eater,’ a composite monster, to die a second death. The scarab would intervene in the Weighing of the Heart, preventing the heart from testifying against itself. The heart was weighed against the feather of Maat, goddess of truth and justice.
The underside of Freud’s heart scarab has seven lines of hieroglyphic text that identify the deceased along with lines from the Book of the Dead.


Figurines of mummies, called shabtis, started to be manufactured towards the end of the Middle Kingdom, and were originally intended as substitutes for the deceased. As time went on, they became regarded as deputies who carried out menial tasks in the afterlife for the deceased. The earliest shabtis, like this one, were carved in stone, but as time went on various other materials, such as wood, bronze, glass and faience, were used.
Although the text on the lower part of the shabti has faded, we know the identity of the owner by an identical figure, located in Bologna. The hieroglyphs have excerpts from the Book of the Dead.


Unusual because of its composite materials, this shabti figure’s body is made of limestone while the head is gessoed and painted wood. It also would have had wooden feet and crossed arms, now lost. His elaborate costume, with pleats and apron, was common on shabtis of the late 18th and 19th Dynasty. Across his apron are several lines of text that identify the owner as Djehutyemheb, ‘overseer of cattle in the Temple of Re.’
The apron hieroglyphs also contain an excerpt from the Book of the Dead, an Egyptian funerary text that consisted of over two hundred ‘spells’ to aid the deceased in their journey through the afterlife.


Made of pale green Egyptian faience, this shabti holds several farming implements: a pick, a hoe, and a basket rope. Shabtis such as this one were intended to carry out menial tasks for the deceased in the afterlife and thus were suited with tools.
The hieroglyphic text on the lower part of the figure has an excerpt from the Book of the Dead, and names the owner as ‘the god’s father Imhotep, born of Bastetirdis,’ a priest’s title. Freud’s collection also contains an almost identical shabti of Imhotep’s brother.


This wooden falcon figure probably adorned a coffin lid or canopic box, which would have contained the internal organs of the deceased. During the mummification process, organs were embalmed separately from the body, and placed in their own boxes. The falcon represents Sokar, lord of Rostau, the entrance to the underworld. Sokar was a funerary deity important to the necropolis of Memphis, and was closely associated with the Memphite creator god, Ptah.
Freud’s figure has a mortise hole on the top of its head, indicating that it may have had an attached headpiece, perhaps a double plume with a solar disk, an attribute commonly found on such figures.


This reliquary is in fact a still-sealed coffin for a sacrificed animal. Certain animals were held sacred to ancient Egyptians because of their association with particular deities. The falcon represents Horus, the sky god, and, with the double crown of a united Egypt, illustrates his victory over his father’s murderer, Seth.
In later dynasties, animal cults, such as the one dedicated to falcons, became increasingly popular and even had their own priesthoods. Pilgrims could purchase the ritually sacrificed and mummified remains of an animal, placed within a coffin, as offerings to a god. Thousands of such remains were interred in extensive underground galleries.


This figure, with tripartite wig and colourfully painted details, probably once perched on a rounded wooden funeral stele, a type identified with the Ptolemaic period. The bird does not represent a deity, but instead the individuality, or ba, of the deceased. Ancient Egyptians believed a person divided into three elements at death: the ba, the body, and the life force, called the ka. Unlike the body and the ka, the ba could take the form of a bird and return to the land of the living, partaking in the earthly pleasures it left behind.


This wooden mask was once pegged on to an anthropoid coffin. Starting in the Early Dynastic Period (2965-2705 B.C.), coffins became important to Egyptian culture as the eternal home and protection of the deceased. Originally just small boxes, coffins developed into anthropoid shapes and finally several nested coffins, such as the famous King Tutankhamun’s.
Over time the colours of Freud’s mask have darkened, but the face was once a creamy yellow. The dowel peg for a beard is still intact, identifying the mummy as male.


This painted mummy covering, made to dress the legs of a mummy, is made of cartonnage, a type of board made from plaster and papyrus or cloth fibres. During Ptolemaic times, such coverings consisted of separate pieces for mask, collar, frontal panels and a foot case.
The hieroglyphic text down the centre calls for the aid of Anubis, the dog-headed god, on behalf of the deceased, identified by the text as a woman. Anubis had assisted Isis in embalming her husband, Osiris, who had been cut into fourteen pieces by his murderer.
The upper vignettes depict the four sons of Horus, minor deities in charge of protecting the stomach, intestines, lungs and liver of the deceased. The lower vignettes illustrate Osiris, god of the underworld, on one side with Isis and on the other with her sister Nephthys. All figures have green skin and red costume.


Freud’s collection has two pieces of mummy wrappings, which, due to their similar quality, are possibly from the same mummy. Each is illustrated with parts of the Book of the Dead, a group of spells and illustrations meant to help the deceased navigate their way to the underworld. One bandage, mostly pictorial, portrays offerings being presented before Osiris, god of the underworld. Osiris sits in his throne, wearing his identifying atef crown and holding a crook and flail, two symbols of kingship. The other wrapping has excerpts from the first three chapters of the Book of the Dead and accompanying illustrations depicting a procession to a tomb and the deceased worshipping a deity.

3441 / 3327

Made during the Roman Period, this portrait depicts an aging Egyptian man and was intended for his mummy. Portraits of this type were produced from the first to the fourth century A.D., and were bound over the face of an embalmed body, adapting Roman artistic style to Egyptian religious practice. An example of this type of portrait has been found with a frame, suggesting that they may have been painted and put on display before their final use as a mummy covering.
Freud acquired this portrait from Austrian dealer Theodor Graf, who had been connected to several excavations in Egypt, including one that unearthed a large number of Roman style mummy portraits. Many of Graf’s mummy portraits, along with the one in Freud’s collection, were put in an exhibition in Berlin in 1889, which due to its popularity travelled throughout Europe and even across the Atlantic to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.


This stirrup jar, named for the shape of its handles, is from Mycenae. Flourishing in the second millennium B.C., the Mycenaean culture predates Hellenistic Greece and is the source of many Greek myths. In the 1870s, the capital, Mycenae, was discovered by Heinrich Schliemann, a businessman turned amateur archaeologist of whom Freud was a great admirer. Vases similar to the one in Freud’s collection were unearthed in great numbers from Mycenae, and are typical of the culture.


A seemingly legless rider merges as one with his horse in this Archaic Greek terracotta figure. Freud uses horseback riding as a metaphor for the ego riding the forces of the id, and surely would have found this object interesting. Figures of this type, manufactured in Boeotia in the sixth century B.C., were common grave goods, meant to comfort the dead. Horses and horsemen were especially popular, perhaps to attest to the war or hunting skills of the deceased.


This Corinthian vase is an alabastron, a type of vessel used for storing perfume. The main subject is a winged goddess of animals, a subject possibly derived from Near Eastern mother goddesses with whom the Greeks associated Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Corinthian vase painting often had illustrations of animals, both real and imagined, borrowed from Near Eastern motifs. Grasping the necks of two swans, the goddess wears an embroidered tunic and a headdress called a polos. The style of the painting on the alabastron, with its surface completely covered in a combination of representational and abstract pattern, is typical of early Corinthian pottery.


This lekythos, used for storing oil or perfume, depicts two warriors on horseback and two dogs. The warriors are female, probably Amazons, which is obvious by their lack of beards. Also, the white slip that would have covered their skin, which would definitely distinguish them as female, is faintly visible in places.
The work is attributed to the Gela Painter due to the lettering throughout the background of the scene and the close attention to animal detail while human figures are done with less care.


A sphinx sits on a pedestal flanked by two seated and two standing elders, all leaning on sticks, attesting to their age. The artist, probably from the Haimon Painter workshop, uses the black figure technique, a type of vase painting in which the silhouettes of the figures is painted in black and then details are incised with a sharp tool. The sketch-like quality of the patterns and small-headed elongated figures are characteristic of the Haimon Painter and his workshop.


The main subject of this hydria is Herakles being attended to by a satyr, identified by his tail and pointy ears. Herakles wears his lion skin, reclining while the satyr offers him a drink. A laurel wreath wraps around the shoulders of the vase. This hydria is a perfect example of red figure painting, a technique in which the ground is painted black, leaving the figures the red colour of the pottery so details can be painted instead of incised, as in black figure painting.


This lekythos, done in red-figure painting, depicts a winged woman chasing a youth. The woman is the goddess of the dawn, Eos, who was said to be very amorous and was often depicted chasing a youth, either Kephalos or Tithonos. In this case the youth is probably Tithonos, shown carrying a lyre. According to mythology, Eos persuaded Zeus to grant Tithonos immortality, but forgot to ask for eternal youth for the boy. Tithonos thus aged and withered over time, tragically unable to die.


White-Ground lekythoi, such as the one in Freud’s collection, were intended to hold perfumed oil given as gifts to the deceased. The ground, done in a white slip, allows for more colour and detail. However, white-ground painting is also very fragile and wears easily since much of the colouring was applied after firing. Because they were meant to be grave offerings, white-ground lekythoi were often decorated with funerary scenes.
This particular lekythos depicts grave stele flanked by a youth and a woman. Although it can be difficult to distinguish mourner from deceased, the woman, holding a basket of fillets, is most likely bringing offerings to the grave of the youth. This work is attributed to the Reed Painter based on the woman’s head, the way the stele is depicted, and the manner of the youth.


In Greek mythology, the Sphinx, half woman and half lion, was a dangerous monster who killed those who could not answer her riddle: “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?” Oedipus correctly answered Man, who crawls as a baby, then walks on two feet, and uses a cane in old age. This sphinx figure, with delicately curved wings, was originally covered in a white slip that has since worn off.


The scene on this hydria illustrates the legend of Oedipus and the Sphinx. Holding two spears, Oedipus sits facing the Sphinx. Behind the Sphinx is a youth, probably a companion of Oedipus, who also holds a spear. The Sphinx’s skin is white, revealing her gender, while her wings are left the red colour of the clay.
Freud’s love of antiquity is obvious in his works. The Oedipus complex, one of his most well known theories, is an ode to his classical education


This figurine represents one of the many small statues found in domestic settings, sanctuaries and graves at Tanagra, a Greek city that flourished in the fourth and third centuries B.C. Such figures were mass produced, but are still important because they give insight into daily life and demonstrate Hellenistic interest in individualism rather than idealism.
This statuette was made using a two piece mould, and the base was produced separately. The woman holds a fan and wears a sunhat, clearly prepared for the Mediterranean sun.
Standing women formed a great part of the Tanagran repertoire. The standard female dress of the period is narrower and simplifier than the earlier Archaic-style dress. The sleeves are short or non-existent, there is a deep v-neck, and the girdle is immediately below the breasts rather than at the waist. The garment is referred to as a chiton and is usually worn with a cloak over. Garments were originally painted bright colours, blue and purplish pink being especially popular. Some women, such as this figure, wear broad conical hats


These terracotta heads were broken from statuettes of a man, and a woman, distinguished by her head covering. Their features are extremely exaggerated and grotesque, demonstrating Hellenistic interest in physical deformities, the same interest that is seen in contemporary art and literature. Although thousands of such figures have been found in Greece, their exact use is unclear. They may represent dwarfs or persons with other deformities that were curiosities in Hellenistic courts.


This marble head was originally part of a high relief sculpture, probably a grave relief. Like white-ground lekythoi, grave sculptures depicted both mourner and deceased, either of which this head may represent. It is made of Pentelic marble; the same type of marble used for the Parthenon and many other Athenian sculptures and architecture. This head is a perfect example of classical idealization with its perfected beauty and calm expression.


This small figure of Eros, with a loop for hanging, was meant to be suspended in flight. In Greek mythology, Eros is the god of love and lust and the son of Aphrodite. This object is most likely from Tanagra, an archaeological site where such sculptures were mass produced and unearthed in large quantities from grave sites.
This Eros has his left leg forward and his right arm raised across his chest. Around his head is a narrow band and draped across his lower body is a chlamys, the robe worn by men. On his feet are boots. A clay loop between the figure's wings (at rear) indicates it was designed to be suspended. Winged figurines were sometimes suspended from the ceiling of a home with ribbons.
There were different types of Erotes. Some were depicted as youths (ephebes) and others, like this one, as a child. During the Hellenistic period, the image of  Eros as a child became increasingly popular. The winged cherub remains familiar as a figure on Valentine's Day cards.
Johann Gustav Droysen first coined the term 'Hellenistic' in Geschichte des Hellenismus (History of  Hellenism, 2 vols 1836 and 1843) to describe the diffusion of Greek culture over the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East in the 4th-1st centuries BC, the centuries following the death of Alexander the Great and the expansion of  the Roman Empire.


Although this terracotta figurine of Eros, god of love and lust, is now worn, it was once brightly painted. His skin was covered in white slip and his wings were applied with gold leaf. His mantle, drawn up to expose his genitals, was painted blue, and his hair was red. The figure may be a later copy or a fake, but if genuine, it was most likely manufactured in Boeotia.
The figure wears a wreath and his hands are muffled in his chlamys which is drawn up to reveal his genitals.
Once the statues were painted. As Lucilla Burn notes 'the clay of this figurine is red; it was originally coated in white slip (or liquid white clay). Traces of gold are visible at the top of the wings and on the wreath, blue on the mantle red on the hair.' Burn queries the authenticity of the figure, remarking on its 'coy pose', 'affected set of the head' and 'sweet smile'. (1) If genuine, it is likely the figure was produced in Boeotia, the region in central Greece where the town of Tanagra is located.
The craze for Tanagra figurines in 19th century Europe led to the production of fakes. Only in recent years has it been possible to determine the authenticity of the figurines with thermoluminescence testing.


This large Eros, sculpted in flight and originally covered in white slip, probably carried a musical instrument in his hands. Traces of blue and gold remain on the wings of Eros and there is red in his hair.
Freud identified the basic life instinct as Eros, and he said that the evolution of civilization was a result of the struggle between Eros and Death. Freud’s collection has six figurines of Eros, with this one being the largest.
A major work in Freud's collection. The youthful god is shown with one foot lightly touching the earth. While traditionally Eros is associated with a bow and arrow, this Eros may have held a musical instrument such as a lyre.
Eros is depicted as a handsome adolescent and charmingly seductive, referring to love's illusions, its blindness. But his joyful vitality, conveyed by his light stance, raised arms and wings stretched in full flight, symbolise the rapture and energy of love's awakening.
Eros comes from the ancient city of Myrina which was halfway between Smyrna and Pergamon. The area is now part of Turkey. In the early 1880s, many treasures were excavated from a necropolis on the site. Some of the finest terracotta figures of the late Hellenistic and Roman periods were discovered there. The haul by the French School at Athens found its way to the Louvre while many other antiquities, pillaged by the locals, surfaced in the marketplaces of Athens and Paris.
Freud's Eros is superior to similar examples in the Louvre. He bought it in September 1934,  four years after publishing Civilization and its Discontents, his final essay testifying to the power of  Eros.


This figure, with short tunic and windswept mantle, is of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt and wild animals. She is identified by her short hunting dress and boots with folded over flaps. Often depicted with arrows, Artemis, like Athena with her spear, is a virgin goddess of aggression. Freud would have been interested in her masculinized, androgynous image and its connection to sexuality and aggression.


This figure of a warrior, with its helmet and long crest, would have once held a spear. Small warrior figurines of this type were often placed in sanctuaries as dedications, presumably in hope of or in thanks for victory. This object had a special place on Freud’s desk in both Vienna and London.


Thousands of Etruscan mirrors have been unearthed in Italy. They were an important mark of status for Etruscan women, and were often decorated in scenes of female adornment or mythology, especially involving the goddess of love. Most mirrors have been discovered in tombs, suggesting that for women adornment was considered important in both life and death. The verso of these mirrors was undecorated and highly polished to reflect the image of its owner.
The scene on Freud’s mirror depicts four figures. In the centre is an armed warrior with his arm around an almost nude woman. On the left of the pair is another warrior and on the right is Athena, goddess of war. Apart from Athena, the identity of the figures is unclear. However, they may represent the abduction of Helen by Theseus or the recovery of Helen after the sack of Troy by her husband, Menelaus, both of which are myths found on other examples of Etruscan mirrors.


Bronze vessels of this type, called balsamariums, were made to hold perfume or oil and are commonly found in Etruscan tombs. They often take the form of a head, or as in this case, two faces joined at the sides. The faces represented are of a satyr and a maenad, the male and female followers of Dionysos, god of wine. Satyrs and maenads are mischievous and amorous creatures. The maenad is an image of idealized beauty, while the satyr, with his snout-like nose and slanting eyebrows, is the epitome of ugliness. Combined on a single vessel, these two faces make an interesting juxtaposition: male and female, beautiful and ugly.


This bronze statuette depicts Athena, goddess of war. She wears a Corinthian style helmet with a long crest and an aegis (breastplate) with a Medusa head, a typical attribute of Athena. In her one hand she holds a decorated patera or libation bowl, and in her raised left hand she would have held a spear, now lost. The overall style of the figure is Roman, however, its contrapposto pose is classical Greek, suggesting the influence of a fifth century B.C. Greek work.
This object was one of Freud’s favourites and was one of only three items    he chose to have smuggled out of Vienna in 1938, when his entire antiquities collection was threatened. His interest in the Athena figure is also demonstrated in a 1922 manuscript in which he discusses the sexual symbolism of the decapitated Medusa on Athena’s breastplate. In this manuscript he compares decapitation to castration and the decapitated gorgon head to female genitals, which lack a phallus.


This statue, probably from a Roman province in France or the Rhineland, is of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Nude from the waist up, she holds her hair in one hand and a mirror in the other.
In Roman mythology, Aphrodite became Venus. Eros became Amor or Cupid (Latin cupido:desire), her son with Mars, the Roman god of war. Venus was associated with luxury and all the pleasures of the flesh. Venus stands in a relaxed pose as she gazes at her reflection in a mirror while holding a strand of her hair. Her robes are arranged to reveal her body. Princess Marie Bonaparte, who began her analysis with Freud in 1925, often gave Freud gifts for his collection, including this Venus.

Despite Freud's liberating theories about sexuality, his construction of femininity was both problematic and phallic. Castrated because she is in possession of a clitoris, a girl extends to her mother, and to all females (including herself), a sense of disappointment, of lack, even of shame. Penis envy also contributed to women's narcissism because 'in the physical vanity of women...they are bound to value their charms more highly as a late compensation for their original sexual inferiority'. Freud felt baffled by female desire. 'What does a woman want?' he asked Princess Marie Bonaparte.
Marie Bonaparte, a close friend of Freud’s, purchased this figure for him in 1938 from a Parisian antiques dealer named Ségrédakis.


This plaster fragment depicts a seated female sphinx. She holds ivy and ribbon in her front paw and has shading on her belly and legs. This piece would have been a part of a larger composition, probably one which included another sphinx facing her, perhaps holding the other end of the ivy chain. Wall paintings were common in wealthier households throughout ancient Rome, but the style and colouring of this fragment suggest it may have come from Campania.


This fragment, from the side of a sarcophagus lid, illustrates the Trojans carrying the ransomed body of Hector, their leader. This story is recounted in Homer’s Iliad. After the burial of his best friend, a distraught Achilles refuses to return Hector’s body to his father Priam, king of Troy. Priam eventually brings a cart of treasure and asks Achilles to think of his own father, which convinces Achilles to surrender the body. Hector is then returned to Troy and receives a proper burial and mourning, two things the Greeks considered essential to a hero’s entry to the afterlife.
During this period in Rome, burial replaced cremation as the customary funeral ritual. Many stone sarcophagi were produced in Rome. They were often decorated with Greek mythology, by which a wealthy patron could demonstrate his superior knowledge of Greek culture.  

Freud also owned another fragment of this frieze. The first piece was purchased by a woman, possibly his friend Marie Bonaparte, from Viennese archaeologist and antiques dealer Ludwig Pollak and given to Freud as a gift. When Pollak found the second fragment on the Roman antiques market, he bought it and offered it to Freud.


This vessel, called an unguentarium, was once used to store perfume. Made of free-blown glass, its low, wide body acts as a base for its slender neck, creating a captivating silhouette. This piece was most likely made in the eastern Mediterranean, perhaps Cyprus.


This grape flask, named so for the distinctive pattern on its body, once held either perfume or oil. It was fabricated in a two-part mould and has visible vertical seams. Each half has a stylized grape pattern and a vine leaf. This flask was most likely made in Syria or Palestine.


Made of free-blown glass, this jar holds cremated human bones. Jars of this type (size and shape) may have been used as storage jars as well, however most contain cremated remains. Generally found in western provinces of the Roman Empire, such jars were most likely made by artisans in Italy, southern France, or Spain.


This bottle, with its stunning iridescent sheen, was made in the eastern Mediterranean, perhaps in Cyprus. The underlying colour of the bottle is green, but the iridescent colouring changes in shifting light.


Roman oil lamps, such as this one, were often decorated with erotic scenes. Made of light brown clay covered in dark slip, the top and bottom of the lamp were made in separate moulds and then joined together.
Moulded reliefs of erotic scenes commonly decorated Roman lamps. In this scene, a woman sits astride a man who reclines on a couch. She faces right with her torso turned toward the viewer. Both are naked except for crumpled bedclothes. An erotic scene may denote the use of the lamp as a bedside light.
Mass manufactured and cheap, the lamps were filled with olive oil and lit with a wick. This lamp has a nozzle, which held the wick, and a second hole, located beneath the couch, into which the oil was poured. Freud collected many oil lamps, mostly undecorated, often giving them as gifts.


This glass intaglio is inscribed with a pastoral scene illustrating a shepherd and two goats. Pastoral scenes are commonly found on intaglio and would have appealed to those who lived in the countryside and to urban dwellers who romanticized the simplicity of country life. Most wealthy Romans carried intaglios that they used as seals.
Freud gave intaglio to his closest colleagues beginning in 1912 with the formation of the Committee, an exclusive group of supporters who defended Freud and psychoanalysis in the wake of dissenters such as Carl Jung and from criticism from outside of the field. After the original Committee dissolved Freud continued to present rings to his closest friends and supporters. This particular ring was given to German psychoanalyst Ernst Simmel in 1928.


This hollow cast head was probably once a part of a standing statue of Buddha’s attendant, perhaps a bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas are kind creatures, who out of compassion have chosen to postpone nirvana until all others have achieved it. This bodhisattva would have been placed, probably with another identical one, flanking Buddha in a temple or monastery.
Freud’s bodhisattva has typical large ears draped with ribbons or scarves. Also typical is the hat shaped like an Indian stupa, a shrine housing a Buddhist relic. Four holes at the base of the hat may have once been attachment points for an ornate pendant crown.


This guardian figure’s intimidating looks, with furrowed brow and bared teeth, were intended to frighten away evil spirits from a temple or sacred tomb. It may be a dvarapala, a type of Buddhist guardian that protects entrances in pairs. The bodies of such figures are equally as dramatic as their faces, with exaggerated musculature and twisted poses full of movement. Such a fierce figure stands in contrast to the benevolent images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Although from the Ming Dynasty, the head is done in the style of the earlier Tang period (618-907), demonstrating a cultural interest in antiquity similar to Freud’s.


During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), unglazed terracotta figures, called mingqi, were buried with the deceased to show their status and wealth. Larger figures were made in two part moulds, fired, and then covered in white slip and brightly painted. Subjects varied, but might include figures of servants, officials, animals, dancing girls, musicians and foreigners – a colourful menagerie that provides insight into the cosmopolitan culture of Sian, Tang China’s capital.
Camels and horses were considered symbols of comfort because of their connection to the Silk Road. This camel, however, is certainly a twentieth century fake, distinguishable by its flakey paint. Large quantities of forgeries made their way out of China in the political chaos following the 1912 revolution.


This wooden screen, decorated with floral openwork and a white jade figure of a scholar, would have been placed on a scholar’s desk, along with ornamental writing objects such as brushes, ink blocks and brush rests. Such screens were often carved with landscapes or foliage in order to allow the scholar, in a Daoist mindset, to contemplate the simplicity of the natural world. Similarly, the scholar’s desk ideally would be placed by a window looking out to a garden, which like the screen, would create a miniature version of nature.


Since ancient times, jade has been highly valued in China. Originally used only for ritual objects, the stone later began to be used for decorative items as well. This jade paperweight would have adorned a scholar’s desk. 

Lions are not native to China and became known through Buddhist iconography brought from India in the third century A.D. Initially depictions of lions represented lions as ferocious beasts, however, by the Ming and Qing Dynasties they took on a more frolicsome, domesticated form. Images of lions became known as dogs of fo (Buddhism), and the Chinese even bred the Pekingese dog to resemble them. 

Chinese depictions of lions generally show males playing with a ball and females playing with cubs. This one is a unique combination of male and female attributes: It plays with a tasseled ball and the lion cubs that climb on its back.


This netsuke is in the shape of a shishi, the Japanese version of the Buddhist lion-dog. A netsuke is a toggle at the end of a cord by which Japanese men would carry personal items such as tobacco pouches and pipes. Originally these toggles were made of wood, but over time became more decorative and made of finer materials, such as ivory, like this one. The craftsman who made this piece demonstrates his skill by carving a separate piece for the tongue.


Photo Search

Contact us if the image you are looking for is not yet online.

This website uses cookies to ensure we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website. Find out more about our cookie policy.