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Face of Senwosret III

Period:
Middle Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 12
Reign:
reign of Senwosret III
Date:
ca. 1878–1840 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Red quartzite
Dimensions:
h. 16.5 cm (6 1/2 in)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
Accession Number:
26.7.1394
  • Description

    The face of Senwosret III is one of the most individual and recognizable in all of Egyptian art. The deep-set, heavy-lidded eyes, the thin lips, and the series of diagonal furrows marking the rather hollow cheeks give representations of this king a brooding expression not usually found on the faces of Egyptian kings, who are generally portrayed with a more youthful countenance. Although it lacks any inscription, this fragment of a quartzite statue is easily identified as a likeness of Senwosret III. However, unlike the stern features seen on the face of the king's gneiss sphinx (see 17.9.2), the expression here is somewhat softened, suggesting the face of a living, aging man. This image is one of the few instances in Egyptian art in which the ruler seems consciously to have chosen to represent his humanity rather than an idealized image of eternal kingship.

  • Provenance

    Formerly Carnarvon Collection (purchased in Cairo from Nicolas Tano before 1923). Purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art from Almina, Countess of Carnarvon, 1926.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
544184:1

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