1382 BC to 1344 BC
11″ (27.9cm) high
The image is that of a corpulent, aged individual striding forward with his left leg advanced. That corpulence is conveyed by the modeling of the upper torso with its subtly protruding pectoral muscles rising to each side of the sternal notch which terminates in a narrow, tear-drop shaped, depressed navel. The corpulence is extended to his face which exhibits fleshy, full-cheeks and a mouth with full lips, the corners of which are drilled. His large, circular eyes still retain traces of their original black paint.
He is shown wearing an undecorated, belt-less, wrap-around kilt with its central flap beneath the fold-over. Both of his arms are held parallel to the sides of his body; his left hand with its open palm is pressed against his thigh. His right hand clasps an ankh, or sign of life. His hair is styled in a series of distinctive waves which run parallel to one another and lay flat on the top of his head. This treatment of the hair is stylistically similar to that found on a wooden statuette, inscribed for the young lady Nebetya, which was formerly in the collection of Martine, Comtesse de Béhague. Such a coiffure may also quite possibly be a variant in sculpture in the round of the so-called Nubian wig which was repeatedly depicted in two-dimensional representations of the period.
The rectangular base on which the figure stands, and which appears to be original to the statuette, is inscribed with two columns of hieroglyphs. These contain the nomen and prenomen of the pharaoh Amenhotep III introduced by their respective epithets. These can be translated into English as, “The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neb-maat-re, the Son of the Sun God, Re, Amenhotep, the Ruler of Thebes, may he be granted life like Re [forever].”
There was an intense production of wooden figures during the reign of Amenhotep III, as is evidenced by the numerous surviving examples of statuettes of members of his harem discovered in the Faiyum at Medinet Ghurab. These all stand on similar rectangular bases and are distinctive in regard to their facial features since no two of their physiognomies are alike. None of these statuettes exhibits royal insignia as part of their regalia. The statuette of Nebetya, mentioned above, belongs to this series.
Wooden statuettes were also created for Amenhotep III himself as the examples in Hildesheim and Brooklyn demonstrate. The example in Brooklyn is particularly interesting inasmuch as it, too, rests on a rectangular base inscribed for this pharaoh, and portrays him as a corpulent, aged individual. His arms which are now missing were separately made as was his still preserved crown. The absence of any royal insignia on the head of our statuette seems to conform to the known predilection of the ancient Egyptians to modify wooden images of their royals. The modification to the small wooden head of Queen Tiye in Berlin is perhaps the best know example of this practice. It is also possible that the ankh-sign alone sufficed to indicate the royal status of our figure. One is reminded of the fact that numerous statuettes in small scale were created for this pharaoh which stand outside of the traditional repertoire, and these include the serpentine statuette, unfortunately without its head, now in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is, therefore, possible that this interesting statuette represents the king himself or one of his extremely close and trusted courtiers.
A. P. Kozloff and B. M. Bryan, Egypt’s Dazzling Sun. Amenhotep III and his World (Cleveland 1992), pages 194 and 210 [for the inscribed, wooden image of the corpulent and aged Amenhotep III in The Brooklyn Museum; pages 211-212, no. 27 [for the wooden statuette of Amenhotep III in Hildlesheim]; pages 257-260 [for the wooden statuettes of the members of his harem from the Faiyum, including the image of Nebetya]; pages 209-210, no. 26 [for the reworked wooden head of Queen Tiye]; and 102, figure IV.23 [for a two-dimensional representation of Amenhotep III weaing the Nubian wig, of which the hair style of our statuette may possibly be a variation].Login to view price