• Egypt, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty (c. 1402–1364 BC)
  • Blue glass paste
  • Inv. 139

Head of King Amenhotep III

This delicately carved small head with almond-shaped eyes is an idealised portrait of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who became king at the tender age of around ten. He is portrayed as an adolescent wearing the kheprech or blue crown, decorated with small circles. The front has three holes used to hold the uraeus (iaret), the sacred snake, which was probably made of gold and has been lost.

The young king’s almond-shaped eyes and eyebrows are outlined in black, a typical feature of the first period of his long reign, which lasted for almost forty years and produced in-the-round images and wall sculptures of the king. His initially boyish features were gradually transformed by time into the healthy adult face of this patron and admirer of the arts.

The blue crown on the king’s head is sometimes called the ‘war crown’, although this is a controversial attribution since it often also appears in scenes that have no connection to warfare.

MacGregor Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through H. Kehyaian at the sale of the MacGregor Collection, Sotheby’s, London, 30 June 1922.

Araújo 2006

Luís Manuel de Araújo, Egyptian Art. Calouste Gulbenkian Collection. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2006, pp. 74–5, cat. 7.

Updated on 22 april 2022

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