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Head and Bust from a Seated Statue

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Changing Faces of the Ancient Nile Valley

Despite the common belief that Egyptian artists were reluctant to change, close examination of works produced over many generations shows that they could be quite innovative in artistic style— the distinctive features of aesthetic expression characterizing a period.


The chief royal sculptor, responsible for official images of the king, usually developed at least one standard “court style.” But styles often varied from one dynasty to the next, and two or more styles often evolved during a single dynasty or even a single reign.

Several forces could result in a new style. A pharaoh’s death could motivate the chief royal sculptor to devise a fresh “standard” for depicting his successor. The replacement of one chief sculptor by another might also inspire innovation. Or perhaps young carvers reacted to the teachings of the chief sculptor, introducing subtle modifications that, over time, became an entirely new style.

The carved heads in this case and in the one on the right, spanning more than three thousand years, demonstrate clear changes in stylistic expression.
MEDIUM Granite
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1353-1336 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 12 x 9 x 6 in. (30.5 x 22.9 x 15.2 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS On right breast and arm, cartouches of Amenhotep IV, with the name of Amun erased.
    ACCESSION NUMBER 60.96
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Head and Bust from a Seated Statue, ca. 1353-1336 B.C.E. Granite, 12 x 9 x 6 in. (30.5 x 22.9 x 15.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 60.96. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, CUR.60.96_erg456.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 7/2/2008
    "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 Gray granite head and bust of a man from a kneeling statue which supported a stela. Double curled wig with ear lobes exposed, idealizing face with plastic eyebrows and outlined mouth. On right breast and arm cartouches of Amenhotep IV, the name of Amun erased. Plain back pillar. Condition: Incomplete. Nose broken. Scattered chips.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (85%)
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