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Block Statue of Ay

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egypt Reborn: Art for Eternity, 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor

Ancient Egyptian sculptors first fashioned block statues in the Twelfth Dynasty. Such statues show their subjects seated on the ground, with the legs drawn toward the chest and the body enveloped in a full-length cloak.

Interpretations of the meaning of block statues vary. Some Egyptologists see them as simple representations of men in repose. Others feel they have a religious meaning: they seem to show the soul emerging from a mound in the underworld at the moment of rebirth.

This example depicts a man named Ay who achieved the exalted religious positions of Second Prophet of Amun and High Priest of the Goddess Mut at Thebes. His career flourished during the reign of Tutankhamun, when the statue was made. The cartouches of King Ay, Tutankhamun's successor appearing on the statue, were an attempt by an artisan to "update" the sculpture.

MEDIUM Limestone
  • Possible Place Collected: Sumenu (modern day Dahamsha), Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1336-1327 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY XVIII Dynasty
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 18 9/16 x 10 x 12 1/4in. (47.1 x 25.4 x 31.1cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 66.174.1
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Block Statue of Ay, ca. 1336-1327 B.C.E. Limestone, 18 9/16 x 10 x 12 1/4in. (47.1 x 25.4 x 31.1cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 66.174.1. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE front, 66.174.1_view1_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "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 Near white indurated limestone block statue with double wig, ears half covered, earlobes nicked, plastic eyebrows and cosmetic lines, full-blown mouth, body completely enveloped in garment except for two fists in relief: right holding Djed pillar, left with “blood of Isis”. Cartouche of Ay on right shoulder; eight lines of inscription, running from left to right, on front of garment down to feet for the second priest of Amun, etc., Yii, son of Min-nakht and Mut-em-nebu. No back pillar. Base square in front was probably rounded in rear. Condition: Eyebrows eyes and nose damaged; also base. Break on upper left arm; small chips missing. Back of base lost.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (86%)
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