Egyptian Bronze Figure of King Tutankhamun as Amun
Egyptian · 18th Dynasty, ca. 1334 – 1325 B.C.
H: 16.1 cm
This solid bronze statuette was cast in the lost wax process, composed of several elements which were made separately and then assembled (feathers of the headdress, ears, beard, scepter, arms, body). Cold-worked incisions skillfully detail the decoration of the loincloth, of the belt and of the nails, as well as the facial features. The eyes, which were originally inlaid, are now lost; but their absence seems due rather to an intentional removal than to preservation issues. Similarly, one can notice that the cartouche placed in the center of the belt was deliberately abraded, as if someone had wanted to erase the name of the figure.
The man represented stands upright, in a strictly frontal and frozen position, with his left leg forward, in a typology that recalls the effigies of the Theban god Amun. His feet are placed on a rectangular, narrow and very thin base. Aside from a finely striated loincloth, the man is naked. His right arm falls to his thigh, while his left arm is bent towards the viewer. He would have held a long scepter in his hand (the was scepter, a symbol and hieroglyphic representation of Thebes). He wears Amun’s customary headdress, the cylindrical crown originally surmounted by two ostrich feathers, which were inserted in the deep groove on top of the headdress. The belt is adorned with zigzag lines. The figure has a willowy, slender body and shows outstanding artistic qualities. There is a striking contrast between the slim waist and youthful facial features (which suggest an adolescent rather than a man in the prime of life) and the well-developed and athletic shoulders.
Although this statuette can first be identified with the Theban god Amun, one should highlight an article by G. Weill Goudchaux, who advances a very attractive interpretation that takes into account all the characteristics of this image. Accordingly, the youthful appearance, the lost eyes and the erased cartouche are not surprising if one accepts that the statuette represents a young pharaoh (in Egyptian iconography, gods, kings and queens enjoyed the privilege of having their name inscribed in a cartouche), and more specifically Tutankhamun, who died at the age of 18. The author also emphasizes the definite likeness between the face of our example and some portraits of the young pharaoh. In addition, the author connects the erasing of the cartouche with the damnatio memoriae to which Tutankhamun was condemned by his successors, in particular by the first kings of the 19th Dynasty, Seti I and Ramesses II. As can be observed on the Abydos Table and King List (precisely established by the first two pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty), the names of the last pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty, including that of Tutankhamun, are not mentioned. They would have been omitted because of their links with the Amarna heresy. If this appealing hypothesis were definitively confirmed, our bronze example would be of particular historical significance. Indeed, it would be one of the rare representations of the young pharaoh found outside the context of his tomb, the discovery of which dates back to about a century ago.
Complete except for the attribute held in the left hand (scepter), feathers of the headdress and inlaid eyes which are lost. The surface shows a beautiful uniform brown patina and some reddish encrustations in places. The statuette might have been gilded originally.
Art market, prior to 1966;
Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 28, 1966, Lot 44; Ex- Charles Ratton, Paris;
Ex- Mr. Evrard de Rouvres private collection, Paris, 1973;
Ex- private collection, London.
Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 28, 1966, Lot 44;
LUNSINGH SCHEURLEER R.A., ed., Egypte, Eender en Anders, Amsterdam, 1984, p. 52, no. 70.
WEILL GOUDCHAUX G., Promenade autour d’un bronze égyptien, in Art passions, Revue suisse d’art et de culture, October 2007, Geneva, pp. 47-52.
Egypte, Eender en Anders, Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, 1984.
On the heads of Tutankhamun, see:
FREED R.E., ed., Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, Boston, 1999, nos. 241 and 245 (heads of Tutankhamun, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 50.6 and 07.228.34); pp. 187 ff. (sculptors’ workshops).
MICHALOWSKI K., Histoire mondiale de la sculpture: Egypte, Paris, 1978, pp. 148-149 (the Louvre, Paris, and the Egyptian Museum, Cairo).