Armchair of Queen Hetepheres I (reproduction)

Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Snefru to Khufu
2575–2528 B.C.
Cabinetmaker Joseph Gerte (American, 1886–1967)

Findspot: Notes: Original from Egypt (Giza, tomb of Hetepheres)


Height x width x depth: 79.5 x 70.7 x 66 cm (31 5/16 x 27 13/16 x 26 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, gold, copper, silver, leather, faience, ebony

Not On View


The Ancient World



Those who could afford it equipped their tombs with all the necessities and comforts of life on earth, so that they could continue to enjoy them in the afterlife. For Queen Hetepheres, wife of King Sneferu and mother of King Khufu, these necessities included her entire bedroom suite: her portable canopy, bed with headrest, armchair, and curtain box, all designed of wood overlaid with gold.

A combination of plant and animal motifs is found on this low chair, the armrests of which are decorated with bound papyrus plants. Cushions would have padded the hard seat. A second armchair adorned with an even more complex motif awaits re-construction.

All of the furniture is noteworthy for its austerity of line and selective use of detail. The seeming simplicity masks sophisticated joinery. The beauty and technical achievement of these objects are matched only by the amazing story of their accidental discovery in 1925 and subsequent excavation and restoration. Because it was an unplundered royal tomb, the original contents remained in Cairo, as stipulated in the Expedition contract. The set in the Museum is an exact duplicate.


From Giza, tomb G 7000 X (original). Reproduction commissioned for the MFA and made by Boston cabinetmaker Joseph Gerte, 1938.
(Accession Date: May 1, 1938)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Charles Gaston Smith and Group of Friends