This elegant head originally belonged with the body of a statue that still stands in the great Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Amun at Karnak whose inscriptions show that the statue had been carved for the short rule of Amenmesse. Following Merenptah, Amenmesse had apparently seized the throne from the rightful heir, Seti II (ca. 1200-1194 B.C.). When Seti II subsequently was able to retake the throne, he reinscribed this statue, like most of the others carved for Amenmesse, with his own name.
Although resemblances in features are not particularly close, the rather severe tone of the head finds echoes in certain Theban statuary of Merneptah and Seti II, Amenmesse's predecessor and successor, respectively. Two uraei wearing red crowns are carved in relief on the proper left side of the king's crown in front of the ears, and two wearing white crowns are carved on the right side. Since the red crown is associated with Northern (Upper) Egypt and the white crown with Southern (Lower) Egypt, this may indicate that the statue itself was oriented by these coordinates and faced the east. Traces of pigment on the surface of the head indicate that the crown was painted blue, the band where it fits the forehead along with the crown's uraeus were colored with yellow ochre, and the face was red.
Seen in Paris by Howard Carter (de Lorey), 1930. Purchased by the Museum from Eustache de Lorey, Paris, 1934.
Aldred, Cyril 1980. Egyptian Art in the Days of the Pharaohs, 3100-320 BC, World of Art, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 195.