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.
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Title:Face of Senwosret III
Reign:reign of Senwosret III
Date:ca. 1878–1840 B.C.
Dimensions:H. 16.5 × W. 12.6 × D. 11.4 cm (6 1/2 × 4 15/16 × 4 1/2 in.)
Credit Line:Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
Acquired by Lord Carnarvon (d. 1923) from Nicolas Tano, Cairo. Purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art from Almina, Countess of Carnarvon, 1926.
Newberry, Percy E. and H. R. Hall 1922. Catalogue of an Exhibition of Ancient Egyptian Art. London: Burlington Fine Arts Club, p. 81 no. 41 pl.4.
Scott, Nora E. 1945. Egyptian Statues. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, fig. 6.
Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 198, fig. 120.
Vandier, Jacques 1958. Manuel d'archéologie égyptienne: Les grandes époques: La statuaire, 3. Paris, 191, pl. 64.
Fischer, Henry G. 1964. "Two Royal Monuments of the Middle Kingdom Restored." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, new ser., vol. 22, no. 7 (March), p. 235, fig. 3.
Aldred, Cyril 1970. "Some Royal Portraits of the Middle Kingdom in Ancient Egypt." In Metropolitan Museum Journal, 3, p. 44, fig. 27; p.45.
Rousseau, Theodore 1970. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 29(3), p. 137.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 1977. Ancient Egypt in the Metropolitan Museum Journal, 1–11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 18–19, fig. 27; p. 22, n. 80.
Dorman, Peter F., Prudence Harper, and Holly Pittman 1987. Egypt and the Ancient Near East. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 42.
Oppenheim, Adela 2015. "Face of a Statue of Senwosret III." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 79, 81–83, no. 23.
Oppenheim, Adela 2015. "Artists and Workshops: The Complexity of Creation." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 23, 27.
Arnold, Dorothea 2015. "Pharaoh: Power and Performance." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 69, 71.
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