New Kingdom, Dynasty XIX (1292-1186 BC)
Provenance: Deir el Medina, later Drovetti Collection, 1824
Inv. Nr. C. 1372
King Amenhotep I (1545-1525) was not a pharaoh known for conquests or a long reign. He appears only to have consolidated his father’s accomplishments, but he was particularly remembered for his sponsorship of the arts. He commissioned a number of small architectural projects including the remarkable alabaster chapel at Karnak to ‘Amun with Enduring Monuments’. It was undoubtably these acts that made him a popular figure later in the Ramesside Period (around 12th century) when the village at Deir el-Medina flourished and royal projects were many. This white-painted limestone figure was probably intended to imitate Egyptian alabaster and to recall the king’s alabaster chapel. This is a retrospective portrait of the king. To the uninitiated eye much Egyptian art may look alike, but once the details are isolated even the laymen can understand how this sculpture must be a retrospective portrait. The king has a round face with fleshy cheeks, a long nose and small mouth with large lips, not unlike that of King Ramesses II. His enormous lidded eyes are sculpted in shallow orbitals, a feature that was introduced in the Amarna Period, as were the pierced earlobes. The stylistic evidence is backed up by the inscription. The epithet in the cartouche “Lord of the Crown”, was common in the Ramesside Period and not at the beginning of Dynasty XVIII. King Amenhotep I was venerated by the inhabitants of Deir el-Medina as an oracular god, whose statue was carried around in procession. Its movements were interpreted by the priests for the supplicants.