Egyptian; From Deir el-Bahri, western Thebes
H. 76 3/4 in. (195 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1929 (29.3.2)
Hatshepsut, the best known of several female rulers of Egypt, declared herself king sometime between years 2 and 7 of the reign of her stepson and nephew, Thutmose III. This lifesize statue shows her in the ceremonial attire of an Egyptian pharaoh, traditionally a man's role. In spite of the masculine dress, the statue has a distinctly feminine air, unlike most other representations of Hatshepsut as pharaoh. Even the kingly titles on the sides of the throne are feminized to read "Daughter of Re [the sun god]" and "Lady of the Two Lands [Upper and Lower Egypt]."
Soon after assuming the role of ruler, Hatshepsut began constructing a mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri in western Thebes, beside the temple of her ancient predecessor, Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II of Dynasty 11. Like Mentuhotep's temple, Hatshepsut's consisted of a series of terraces with pillared porticoes that echoed the light and shadow of the cliffs against which it was built. One of the most spectacular architectural achievements of the ancient world, Hatshepsut's temple was decorated with numerous statues portraying her as a sphinx, as the reigning pharaoh making offerings to the gods, and as Osiris, god of the afterlife. The Osirid statues were carved onto the pillars of the uppermost portico; granite sphinxes and kneeling statues lined the processional way into the temple; and the smaller, more intimate portrait statues seem to have been located in the chambers and courtyards of the upper terrace.