Skip Navigation

Block Statue of Senwosret-senebefny

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Block statues show their subjects—almost always male—seated on the ground with their knees drawn to their chests; a cloak usually envelops the limbs and torso. The resulting block-like form gives these statues their name.

Block statues first appeared in the Twelfth Dynasty, nearly one thousand years after most statue types had been developed. Some Egyptologists suggest that the invention of such a distinctive sculptural form probably reflected the emergence of new religious ideas. The Twelfth Dynasty witnessed an increase in the belief that a non-royal person’s spirit could be reborn after death. Some scholars have suggested that the block statue represents the spirit as it emerges from a mound in the underworld at the glorious moment of rebirth.

Others see it as a demonstration of the intensification of personal piety that occurred during the period. Most early block statues were found in temples. Because the squatting pose in Egyptian art conveys submission, block statues are thought to depict men observing temple priests as they perform rituals for the gods, like obedient members of an eternal audience.
MEDIUM Quartzite
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1836–1759 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late Dynasty 12
    PERIOD Middle Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 26 7/8 x 16 5/16 x 18 1/8 in., 359 lb. (68.3 x 41.5 x 46 cm, 162.84kg)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented, possibly from Memphis, Egypt; 1798-1799, reportedly acquired in Egypt by Napoleon Bonaparte; before 1810, reportedly gift of Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine Bonaparte; May 29, 1814, reportedly inherited from Josephine Bonaparte by her nephew; between 1814 and 1841, provenance not yet documented; by 1841, acquired by James-Alexandre de Pourtalès, Comte de Pourtalès-Gorgier of Switzerland; March 21, 1865, purchased at Gallerie Pourtalès, “Tableaux Anciens & Modernes Dessins qui composent les Collections de feu M. le Comte de Pourtalès-Gorgier”, vol. 3, lot 4, by Lord William Tyssen-Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst of Hackney, of London, United Kingdom; June 14, 1921, purchased at Sotheby’s London, “The Amherst Collection of Egyptian and Oriental Antiquities”, lot 248, by William Randolph Hearst of California; June 6, 1939, purchased from William Randolph Hearst via Parrish-Watson by the Brummer Gallery; December 15, 1939, purchased from the Brummer Gallery (N4467) by the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Block Statue of Senwosret-senebefny, ca. 1836–1759 B.C.E. Quartzite, 26 7/8 x 16 5/16 x 18 1/8 in., 359 lb. (68.3 x 41.5 x 46 cm, 162.84kg). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 39.602. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 39.602_front_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 39.602_front_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.