Stela with Sculptor’s “Signature”
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Funerary Gallery 2, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
Unlike nearly every other work of ancient Egyptian art, this stela is signed by the artist. The deeply cut inscription beneath the lower register names “the sculptor Nefertem.” He was probably allowed to add his name as compensation for his work, thus perpetuating his memory for eternity.
ca. 1836-1759 B.C.E.
late Dynasty 12
20 1/4 x 12 3/16 x 3 7/16 in., 40.5 lb. (51.5 x 31 x 8.8 cm, 18.37kg) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Rectangular funerary stela. At the top is a cavetto cornice: at the top and sides are heavy rounded moldings which frame a field decorated with two registers of figures accompanied by inscriptions. In the top register are shown the owner of the stela, a man named Henu, and his son Ptah-wenef facing each other across a table of offerings. In the second register two female relatives Ty-neter-ny and Neferu are also shown facing each other across a table. Below this register, in the relatively large empty space between the second register and the bottom of the stela, is inscribed.
Condition: Irregular sawing; some chips in edges. Surface dirty.
Stela with Sculptor’s “Signature”, ca. 1836-1759 B.C.E. Limestone, 20 1/4 x 12 3/16 x 3 7/16 in., 40.5 lb. (51.5 x 31 x 8.8 cm, 18.37kg). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1347E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.1347E_view1_PS9.jpg)
overall, 37.1347E_view1_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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What were stelae used for?
By definition, a stela is a slab of stone or wood with images and/or writing on it. This stela and most of the others you’ll see in our galleries were used in tombs as representation of offerings to the dead and a way to ask for more.
The people on the right are giving the offerings. The people on the left are receiving them. You can even see them sniffing their flowers!