Statue of Wepwawetemhat

Egyptian
First Intermediate to Middle Kingdom, probably l
2140–1991 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Asyut, Tomb 14

Dimensions

Length x width x height: 71.1 x 23.1 x 112 cm (28 x 9 1/8 x 44 1/8 in.)

Accession Number

04.1780

Medium or Technique

Wood

On View

Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery (Gallery 119)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

This masterful wooden statue, made for the tomb of a minor official who lived at the end of the First Intermediate Period or early in the Middle Kingdom, represents the culmination of the style that emerged in the late Old Kingdom. A brief text on the base identifies the figure as “the venerated one, Wepwawetemhat,” who is shown as a slender, idealized young man striding forward with his left foot - the traditional pose for a sculpture of an Egyptian dignitary. The head, torso, and legs were carved from a single piece of wood, while the arms and the base of the figure were made separately. The entire statue was then coated with gesso and brightly painted and the eyes were inlaid with black and white stones. The features of the face, including the slightly arched eyebrows and well-preserved eyes, impart a youthful intensity and energy.

This statue is among the best-preserved wooden sculptures of its time. Its style retains certain features of the First Intermediate Period, including the wide, staring eyes, long limbs and fingers, and angular lines of the face and collarbone. The date of the unplundered rock-cut tomb in which this figure was discovered, however, remains uncertain. It was long thought to predate the reunification of Egypt in Dynasty 11, but a number of scholars now suggest that it and contemporary tombs may date from as late as Dynasty 12.

Provenance

From Asyut, tomb 14. 1903: excavated by Emile Gaston Chassinat and Charles Palanque for the Institut francais d'archeologie orientale, Cairo; 1904: purchased for the MFA by Albert M. Lythgoe.
(Accession Date: January 1, 1904)

Credit Line

Emily Esther Sears Fund