- Egypt, Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty (c. 1860 BC)
- Inv. 138
Head of King Senwosret III
This head, a masterpiece of Egyptian craftsmanship, was part of a full-length statue that probably portrayed the pharaoh Senwosret III in his mature years. The pharaoh is wearing a pleated head-dress (nemes), with the sacred serpent (uraeus), the symbol of royal power.
In this piece the artist conveys the impression of a firm but very human character, though revealing the burden of enormous responsibility inherent in his position.
Made of obsidian, volcanic glass, a material of great strength and fragility, this portrait was produced at a time when a definite cultural and artistic renaissance was taking place in Egypt, as was illustrated by the flourishing of portraiture.
MacGregor Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Kehyaian at the sale of MacGregor Collection, Sotheby's, London, 6 July 1922.
J. R. Harris, Egyptian Art. London: Spring Books, 1966, p. 33, fig. 14, pl. 17.
Jean Yoyotte, Treasures of the Pharaohs. Geneva: Skira, 1968, pp. 49–51.
Sergio Donadoni, 'L’Egitto', in Storia Universale Dell’Arte (Sezione prima). Turin: UTET, 1981, p. 94, cap. V.
John Walker, Portraits. 5000 years. New York: Harry N. Abrahams, 1983, p. 20, no. 8.
Maria Helena Assam, Arte Egípcia. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1991, pp. 40–1, no. 4.
Rona Goffen (ed.), Museums Discovered. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Woodbine Books, 1995, pp. 20–1.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2001, p. 17, cat. 2.
Luís Manuel de Araújo, Egyptian Art. Calouste Gulbenkian Collection. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2006, pp. 66–8, cat. 4.