Egyptian Sandstone Relief of Nefertiti
Egyptian · New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, Amenhotep IV, ca. 1358-1354 B.C.
L: 26 cm (10.2 in)
H: 16 cm (6.2 in)
This sandstone relief of Nefertiti is a fragment of a talatat, a cut masonry block commonly used as a building material in the early years of Amenhotep IV’s reign. The exquisite reliefs adorning the talatat of temples built by Amenhotep IV at Karnak are believed to have prominently featured the royal couple, Amenhotep IV and his wife Nefertiti, presiding jointly over religious ceremonies.
She is depicted here in a manner quite different from the traditional canons of Egyptian art, with an attenuated neck, long, narrow chin jutting forward, and eyes that are narrowed to an unrealistic degree. Furrows mark the area near her mouth, and her skin appears to be pulled taut, resulting in rather gaunt-looking cheeks. She wears the Nubian wig for which she was known. In this case, it is shown with five rows of echeloned curls, and the weight of the wig seems to counterbalance the extreme degree to which her chin juts forward. The larger of the two carved lines to the right depicts her arm, raised in adoration of, or offering to the Aten.
There were no restorations or repairs; surface weathered and chipped behind the head; a few deep dents on both sides; three modern holes on the back for mounting filled with plaster.
Art market, prior to 1958;
Ex- Paul Mallon and Milton Girod collection, acquired in 1958.
Phoenix Ancient Art 2020 / 39, no. 24.
Sense and Sensibility: Women in Antiquity, New York, 2021.