Queen Offering to the Aten

New Kingdom, Amarna Period

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 131

This limestone block is from a monumental temple scene representing the king and queen makinig an offering to Aten. The face, usually identified as Akhenaten, actully depicts an Amarna queen, probably Nefertiti, following her husband. The king's shoulder is just visible at the left side of the block. Nefertiti wears the royal "afnet" headcloth with a uraeus cobra at the forehead. Two of Aten's hands hold an ankh to her nose and mouth. The hand at the end of a third ray is turned upward to touch the divine cobra on the queen's forehead. This reversal of the hand position is unusual but not unprecedented, and adds an element of artistic tension to the composition.

The relief has been carved in the restrained style that came into use in about the eights year of Akhenaten's reign, shortly after the capital was moved to Tell el-Amarna (Akhetaten). The delicacy of the modeling, which subtly emphasizes the bones of the lower jaw, cheek, and brow, suggests that the face was carved by a master craftsman.

Queen Offering to the Aten, Limestone

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