Face of Senwosret III

Face of Senwosret III, ca. 1878–1841 B.C.E.; Dynasty 12, reign of Senwosret III; Middle Kingdom
Quartzite; H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926 (26.7.1394)


"The face of Senwosret III is one of the most individual and recognizable in all of Egyptian art. The deep-set, heavy-lidded eyes, the thin lips, and the series of diagonal furrows marking the rather hollow cheeks give representations of this king a brooding expression not usually found on the faces of Egyptian kings, who are generally portrayed with a more youthful countenance. Although it lacks any inscription, this fragment of a quartzite statue is easily identified as a likeness of Senwosret III. However, unlike the stern features seen on the face of the king's gneiss sphinx (Highlight #14), the expression here is somewhat softened, suggesting the face of a living, aging man. This image is one of the few instances in Egyptian art in which the ruler seems consciously to have chosen to represent his humanity rather than an idealized image of eternal kingship." - MET

Copyright © 2001 The Metropolitan Museum of Art - MET

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Bibliography on Ancient Art

The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008