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Head of a Man with Tight, Curly Hair

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: 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 Marble, "Bigio Morata"
DATES late 2nd century B.C.E.
PERIOD Ptolemaic Period
DIMENSIONS 11 x 7 11/16 x 7 1/2 in. (28 x 19.5 x 19 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Dark grey marble head representing a Nubian with heavily curled hair. The head was broken from a larger sculpture near the base of the neck and a smaller portion of the right shoulder is preserved. The facial features are quite asymmetrical with the mouth being twisted somewhat to the right. Condition: Right cheek, lower lip, outer corners of right eye and lid, hair and tip of nose are chipped; other small chips. There are several surface cracks in the face. One rounds around almost entire face cutting through the forehead and then down both sides of the face near the hairline. It is cut by another crack which runs through the right cheek and terminates at the left side of the mouth. A smaller crack runs through the left eye down into the lips. There are other smaller cracks. Encrusted dirt and other deposits in the hair.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
CAPTION Ancient Near Eastern. Head of a Man with Tight, Curly Hair, late 2nd century B.C.E. Marble, "Bigio Morata", 11 x 7 11/16 x 7 1/2 in. (28 x 19.5 x 19 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 70.59. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 70.59_PS2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 70.59_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
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