New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII reign of Amenhotep III (1388-1351 BC)
Provenance: originally Coptos, later Donati Collection
Inv. Nr. C. 694
Hathor was a mother goddess, associated with the celestial cow; thus her headdress includes the bovine horns and a sundisk. Hathor, literally ’House of Horus’, was believed to have nurtured the god Horus, incarnate as the ruling king of Egypt. Isis, mother of Horus, was later assimilated with Hathor so that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. Hathor was also the mistress of joy, dance, music and love. This figure was one of several deities (now in diverse museums), commissioned by King Amenhotep III to celebrate his jubilee (sed-festival) at Coptos. Although, much Egyptian sculpture may look alike to the casual observer, some features here are especially diagnostic for the style of Amenhotep III, father of the heretic King Akhenaten, who dispensed with the traditional pantheon of gods (Amarna Period). The tear-drop shaped face of the goddess is in the style of the king and especially of his wife, Queen Tiye. The contour of the sweeping ribbon-like eyebrows, the dip of the inner corners of the almond-shaped eyes also similarly rimmed, the thick lips under a well defined philtrum are absolutely typical for the reign. So too are the enlarged earlobes, which were scored on some sculptures to suggest piercing, a feature which would become more constant for images of both sexes during the following, heretical reign. Unexpected, however, is the fact that the goddess holds a was-sceptre for power (normally held by male deities) in place of the more usual floral wadj-sceptre, reserved for goddesses.