Trial piece of Akhenaten, on the reverse a horse's head

Period:
New Kingdom, Amarna Period
Dynasty:
Dynasty 18
Reign:
reign of Akhenaten
Date:
ca. 1353–1336 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Middle Egypt, Amarna (Akhetaten), Sculptors' workshop near south end of the town, Petrie/Carter excavations, 1891–92
Medium:
Limestone
Dimensions:
h. 17 cm (6 11/16 in); w. 13.5 cm (5 5/16 in)
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1921
Accession Number:
21.9.13
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 122
This unfinished study of the head of Akhenaten was one of a number excavated by Flinders Petrie and Howard Carter in 1891–92 from the sculptors' workshops at Tell el-Amarna, the new royal capital founded by Akhenaten. It came to the Museum from the collection of Lord Amherst, who sponsored the excavations. It shows the king in the later, more naturalistic Amarna style. The characteristic attributes of the portraits of the king—long almond-shaped eyes, full lips, elongated jaw and chin, and sloping brow—are present but without the exaggeration of the earlier portraits. These studies may have served as models for or practice pieces by the sculptors carving the reliefs for the huge Aten temples that the king was building in order to worship according to his own unorthodox interpretation of the religion of ancient Egypt; it is also possible that some may have been employed as donation pieces.
Excavated at Amarna by Petrie and Carter 1891–92. Received by Lord Amherst in the division of finds. Purchased by the Museum at Sotheby's, London (Amherst sale), 1921.

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, 282-283, fig. 171.