Head of the pharaoh Apries, Late Period, Dynasty 26, reign of Apries, ca. 589–570 b.c.
Diorite; H. 11 15/16 in. (30.3 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1994 (1994.198)
Although in fragmentary condition, this piece is a royal image of the highest artistic quality. The sculptor, a master of working hard stones, differentiated with superb sensitivity the various surfaces of the bulging metal helmet, the leather of the strips or cap that the king wore under the helmet, and the fleshy facial features. Surviving images of Dynasty 26 kings are rare, generally small, and often fragmentary. No complete statue is known.
This overlifesize fragment probably came from a seated statue of the energetic pharaoh Apries. Kings of Dynasty 26 were constantly involved in conflicts with surrounding kingdoms, particularly those in western Asia. Despite some successes in such conflicts, a foreign defeat combined with growing internal tensions led to Apries' overthrow by the usurper Amasis after nineteen years on the throne; what remains of this image of Apries may be the result of willful destruction.