Head of a King, Possibly Seankhkare Mentuhotep III
Dynasty 11, late
reign of Mentuhotep III
ca. 2000–1988 B.C.
H. 18.3 cm (7 3/16 in.); W. 21.5 cm (8 7/16 in.); D. 18.2 cm (7 3/16 in.)
Purchase, Fletcher Fund and The Guide Foundation Inc. Gift, 1966
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 107
The features of this head are closely matched by a relief from Armant, near Thebes, which is housed in the Brooklyn Museum and is inscribed for King Seankhkare Mentuhotep III, son and successor of the great Mentuhotep II. It is, therefore, conceivable that also this head depicts Mentuhatep III. The piece is a notable work from the late phase of a style that was first initiated during the later Old Kingdom and has been nicknamed “second style" (of the Old Kingdom) by Egyptologists. The sculptor conceived the image in a predominantly stylized manner. The mouth—circumscribed by a prominent relief line—can be understood as smiling, but the expression is not communicative; the shape of the ears is unusually abstract; and the elongated, slanting eyes are set unnaturally high in the face, almost eliminating any indication of a forehead. Only the softly rounded surfaces and outline of the cheeks and jaws add animation to the predominently conceptual image.
Collection of Albert Gallatin, purchased by the Museum in 1966. Purchased by him September 1950 from Spink's London. Previously collection of Walter Reid, who had purchased it at the Macgregor sale, Sotheby London, June 1922.