Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Face of Senwosret III

Period:
Middle Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 12
Reign:
reign of Senwosret III
Date:
ca. 1878–1840 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt
Medium:
Red quartzite
Dimensions:
H. 16.5 cm (6 1/2 in.); W. 12.6 cm (4 15/16 in.); D. 11.4 cm (4 1/2 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
Accession Number:
26.7.1394
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111
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.
Acquired by Lord Carnarvon (d. 1923) from Nicolas Tano, Cairo. Purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art from Almina, Countess of Carnarvon, 1926.

Metropolitan Museum of Art 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p. 45.

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: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 79, 81–83, no. 23.

Oppenheim, Adela 2015. "Introduction: What Was the Middle Kingdom?." In Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom, edited by Adela Oppenheim, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 5.

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: 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: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 69, 71.

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