New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII probably reign of Tutankhamun (1333-1323 BC)
Provenance: probably Thebes, later Drovetti Collection, 1824
Inv. Nr. C. 768
Amarna heresy created a problem for subsequent monarchs. It became necessary for them to demonstrate their re-allegiance to the traditional gods, and especially to the god of the Theban capital, Amun. This dense, white limestone sculpture demonstrates the subservience of the king to the god in no uncertain terms. The king’s placement to the left of the god underscores his subordination, as do his smaller dimensions, his lack of a headdress other than the nemes-head cloth and the fact that he stands whereas the god sits. Like a wife in a double sculpture, the king shows his love by embracing the god, a gesture that is not reciprocated. Instead, the god’s left hand is occupied, holding the ankh-symbol of life. Despite the conservative theme of the sculpture, the style owes a profound debt to the Amarna naturalistic style. Thus, the eyes of the figures are depicted in sunk orbitals with hooded eyelids, unlike the pre-Amarna faces whose features were graphically applied to a flat frontal plane and outlined with highly artificial rims that ended in cosmetic stripes. The king’s waist is high, his abdomen is swollen and the waistband of his kilt is dropped at the front to further emphasise the fact. He wears a figure-hugging, thinly pleated diaphanous garment that reveals his swollen thighs, while the god’s body adheres to the traditional pre-Amarna ideal. Indeed, the Amarna features of the king are so compelling as to suggest that this sculpture is the product of the immediate Amarna successor, King Tutankhamun. The fact that the inscription is that of the later King Haremhab is usually explained away as an usurpation, a common royal phenomenon.