Head of Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III as Osiris
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III
Overall: 52.5 x 21.2 x 26.2cm (20 11/16 x 8 3/8 x 10 5/16in.) Case (wooden base- trap door in back): 112.4 x 59.1 x 66.7 cm (44 1/4 x 23 1/4 x 26 1/4 in.) Case (plex-case ): 79.7 x 54.9 x 62.5 cm (31 3/8 x 21 5/8 x 24 5/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Egyptian New Kingdom Gallery (Gallery 210)
Egypt in the reign of Amenhotep III was at the pinnacle of wealth and splendor, and the king was able to carry out a building program of unparalleled breadth and scope. Temples were erected up and down the Nile according to an organized and well thought-out plan, and these buildings were populated with thousands of statues of the king, large and small, in a variety of materials. This head, from a complete standing figure, is very fine and of the choicest material - quartzite - the stone the Egyptians called “wondrous.”
Even though the sculpture is uninscribed, there is no mistaking its identity, for it captures Amenhotep III’s exotic features to perfection. He has long, narrow, almond-shaped eyes, their length extended by makeup lines, paralleled by the equally long, sweeping curves of his cosmetically enhanced eyebrows. His mouth is wide and voluptuous, with thick lips (the upper lip thicker than the lower). Not a line or blemish disturbs the Buddha-like serenity of his expression; there is not the slightest tension. When complete, the statue would have stood at least 182.9 centimeters tall (six feet), excluding the base. The tall crown would have had a knob at the top, as on the triad of Menkaura, Hathor, and the Hare nome. Enough remains to show that the king wore the long, plaited beard of a god, with a turned-up end.
In all probability this was an Osiride statue, showing the king standing, arms crossed, feet together, in the same mummiform pose as Mentuhotep III as Osiris. To the ancient Egyptians, there was nothing inherently funereal about this pose; rather, it contained the promise of resurrection, for in a moment, the mummy would emerge from his wrappings, reborn, no longer motionless but free to move about as he desired. This type of statue was particularly appropriate for kings’ funerary temples, their “mansions of millions of years,” and indeed fragments of similar statues have been found at Amenhotep III’s funerary temple at Kom el-Hetan, Thebes, where quartzite was lavishly employed.
Presumably from Thebes, Kom el-Hetan, temple of Amenhotep III. 1909, acquired by MFA by gift of Anna D. Slocum.
(Accession date: August 5, 1909)
Museum purchase with funds donated by Miss Anna D. Slocum