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Pair Statue of Nebsen and Nebet-ta

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
To express the physical and spiritual bond between two individuals, sculptors devised a form called the pair statue. The most common variety showed the subjects—a husband and wife, a mother and child, or a king and a divinity, for example—seated together on a chair or bench. The earliest documented examples date to the reign of King Djoser in the Third Dynasty (circa 2675–2625 B.C.E.).

This New Kingdom pair statue represents a married couple. The inscription tells us that the man is Nebsen, a scribe in the royal treasury, and the woman is Nebet-ta, a singer in the temple of the goddess Isis. They each pass one arm behind the other, a symbol of closeness. In order to convey this sentiment and to create a harmonious design, the sculptor extended the arms to unnatural lengths.
MEDIUM Limestone, paint
  • Possible Place Collected: Dahamsha, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1400-1352 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 15 7/8 x 8 9/16 x 9 1/4 in. (40.4 x 21.8 x 23.5 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 40.523
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Pair Statue of Nebsen and Nebet-ta, ca. 1400-1352 B.C.E. Limestone, paint, 15 7/8 x 8 9/16 x 9 1/4 in. (40.4 x 21.8 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 40.523. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, CUR.40.523_view1_erg456.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 9/5/2007
    "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.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Painted limestone double statue of Neb-sen and his sister-wife, Nebet-ta. Figures seated on common seat with rounded plinth behind. Inscribed on plinth, sides and front of seat and down centers of skirts. Elaborate wigs and necklaces. Condition: General condition good with various minor surface chips. Upper left front of seat chipped. Plinth chipped at edges. Extensive remains of paint in various places, particularly around heads and in hieroglyphs and on plinth.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (88%)
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