There is a good chance that this bronze bull is the smallest work in our collection. It represents the Apis bull, one of the most important sacred animals of the Egyptians. The Apis bull – there was always just one – was carefully selected for the pattern on his pelt. He had to have white markings, which incidentally cannot be seen here. What is highly visible is the solar disc between his horns.
The bull was pampered throughout his life, but had no other function. After his death he was buried in the catacombs of Saqqara and a successor bull was sought.
The 7 centimetre-tall figurine comes from the collection of Helene Kröller-Müller. It seems like an odd inclusion in her collection of modern art, but Helene purchased a great many Chinese, Japanese and Egyptian figurines, due to their spiritual character and centuries-old history.
Travels to Egypt
The figurine’s refinement seems to have appealed to her more than the comparatively rather robust sculpture of her time. She usually acquired the small sculptures from Dutch art dealers, but also undoubtedly bought some in Egypt itself, when she accompanied her husband on business trips to the offices of Müller & Co in Suez and Port Said.