All of the individuals in this small group are males, represented according to the conventions of Amarna art. The intriguing group has been variously interpreted as a family comprising a grandfather, a father, and a son, or as one man at three different stages of life. The latter is most unlikely as the multiple representations of a single individual in one statue are not shown interacting as they do here. In fact careful examination of the faces and figures points to the statue's being a kind of domestic icon. The figure at left is a high-status individual and likely the oldest; he is probably a revered relative or the respected overlord of the man and boy who stand closely entwined with one another. The statuette would have received veneration in the household of its owner.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
face detail of left hand figure
face detail of center figure
face detail of right hand figure
clasped hands of two adult figures
Conservation and Scientific Analysis Figure 1: Light-induced near infrared luminescence photograph showing traces of Egyptian blue.
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Title:Statue of two men and a boy that served as a domestic icon
Period:New Kingdom, Amarna Period
Reign:reign of Akhenaten
Date:ca. 1353–1336 B.C.
Geography:From Egypt; Probably from Southern Upper Egypt, Gebelein (Krokodilopolis); Probably originally from Middle Egypt, Amarna (Akhetaten)
Dimensions:h. 17 cm (6 11/16 in); w. 12.5 cm (4 15/16 in); D of base next to man 5.7 cm (2 1/4 in); D next to boy 4.8 cm (1 7/8 in)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1911
All three of these figures originally wore broad collars containing the pigment Egyptian blue. Egyptian blue, a synthetic form of the mineral cuprorivaite, was the most widely used blue in ancient times and is believed to be the first synthetically produced pigment. "Ghosts" of these now-missing blue painted broad collars are visible on the two right-hand figures in the form of better preserved red skin color; apparently the Egyptian blue paint helped to protect the underlying red pigment. Minute traces of blue pigment from the collars were found under 10x microscopy, but the most dramatic evidence for the collars was revealed using visible-induced IR luminescence photography. This technique takes advantage of the fact that even trace amounts of Egyptian blue show a strong infrared emission when excited in the visible range. This emission can be captured photographically, allowing us to dramatically and non-invasively recreate the missing collars (see Conservation and Scientific Analysis Figure 1).
Ann Heywood, Department of Objects Conservation, 2016
Purchased by the Museum in Luxor from Mohammed Mohassib, 1911.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 1911. A Handbook of the Egyptian Rooms. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 95-96, fig. 41.
Winlock, Herbert E. 1937. Egyptian Statues and Statuettes. New York, fig. 15.
Scott, Nora E. 1946. Egyptian Statuettes. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 27.
Aldred, Cyril 1951. New Kingdom Art in Ancient Egypt (London, 1951). London, pp. 85-86, no.136.
Hornemann, Bodil 1951. Types of Ancient Egyptian Statuary (Copenhagen, 1951-1969). n. 1403.
Vandier, Jacques 1958. Manuel d'archéologie égyptienne: Les grandes époques: La statuaire, 3. Paris, pp. 445, 481-482, 493, 497-8, 519, pl. 146.
Hayes, William C. 1959. Scepter of Egypt II: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom (1675-1080 B.C.). Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 312, fig. 194.
Aldred, Cyril 1973. Akhenaten & Nefertiti. New York: Brooklyn Museum, p. 181 no. 110.
Freed, Rita, Elena Pischikova, Yvonne J. Markowitz, and Sue D'Auria 1999. Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen. Boston, no. 174, p. 255 (E. Pischikova).
Stevens, Anna 2006. Private Religion at Amarna: the material evidence, 1587. B.A.R. international series, Oxford, pp. 235-237.
2012. In the Light of Amarna. 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery. Berlin: Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, pp. 159, 161 (M. Hill essay).
Hill, Marsha 2015. "A Statuette of Two Men and a Boy from the Amarna Period
Part I: Face Facts for Understanding the Sculpture." In The Art and Culture of Ancient Egypt: Studies in Honor of Dorothea Arnold, edited by Adela Oppenheim and Ogden Goelet. Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar, vol. 19, throughout.
Heywood, Ann 2015. "A Statuette of Two Men and a Boy from the Amarna Period. Part II: Materials Analysis and Imaging." In The Art and Culture of Ancient Egypt: Studies in Honor of Dorothea Arnold, edited by Adela Oppenheim and Ogden Goelet. Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar, vol. 19, throughout.
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