The Freud Museum

Isis Suckling the Infant Horus

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3037, Isis Suckling the Infant Horus, Late Period (26th Dynasty); 664-525 B.C.

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Egyptian
Material: Bronze
Dimensions: h. 8 in / 21.5 cm

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.

See this object on our Collections site here 

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