Egyptian; from Middle Egypt, el-Amarna (Akhetaten), inc. el-Hagg Qandil
H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm), W. 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm), D. 6 3/8 in. (16.2 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2005 (2005.363)
Soon after he succeeded his father in 1353 B.C., the pharaoh Amenhotep IV emphasized worship of the Aten (Sun Disk), changed his name to Akhenaten, and moved his capital to the site of el-Amarna. In Amarna art, the six daughters of Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti express the tenets of the new solar religion. Gathered playfully near their parents, they suggest creative force, emphasize the sacral grouping that is the royal family, and enact the intimacy that was a subject for the newly expressive art. The exaggerated extension of the skull behind the small face of this head is perhaps the most recognizable characteristic of the pharaoh's family, rendering superfluous the words "king's daughter" on the back pillar. The princess' minutely detailed cranium and face, with traces of the traditional child's sidelock on the right, seem almost unsettlingly vulnerable.
The slight turn of the head and the rise of the stone just at the break on the left side of the face indicate that this was originally part of a group sculpture, probably with another princess who may have walked slightly ahead of this child. A very similar head excavated in 1931 in the sanctuary of the Small Aten Temple at Akhenaten's capital, Akhet-aten, and now in the San Diego Museum of Man, could belong to a pendant group.