Relief with Nefertiti and Akhenaten - ROM2004_1039_7


Relief with Nefertiti and Akhenaten

Medium:Limestone, carved and painted
Geography: Excavated at Amarna, Egypt
Date: c. 1352-1336 BC
Period: Reign of Akhenaten, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, New Kingdom
20 x 45.5 cm
Object number: 958.223
Credit Line: This purchase was made possible with the support of The Reuben Wells Leonard Bequest Fund
On view
Gallery Location:Galleries of Africa: Egypt
DescriptionAkhenaten (1352-1336 BC) came to power in the late Eighteenth Dynasty. He is often referred to as “the heretic king”, since he banned the worship of the many gods of Egypt and closed their temples. The king worshipped only the sun disc, which was called the Aten. Akhenaten became the intermediary between his subjects and the Aten, replacing the traditional role of priests. The king founded a new capital city at a site in central Egypt now called Amarna, where he lived with his queen, Nefertiti, and their six daughters. The religious reforms did not survive the death of Akhenaten, after which traditional Egyptian polytheism was re-established. The short-lived Amarna Period (some 15 years) also saw the introduction of a new art style. This limestone sunk relief is typical of the style employed in Akhenaten’s building programme at Amarna (c. 1340 BC). The style emphasized free curving lines, expressive poses and naturalistic forms that tended toward an exaggerated realism that often came close to caricature. Artists did retain a certain elegance in execution, as seen in this relief of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, worshipping the Aten. Here Nefertiti is seen wearing her crown (the same as the one on the famous bust of Nefertiti in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin) and receiving signs of life (the ankh) emanating from the (now missing) sun disk. The inscription indicates at least one of their daughters was part of this scene. A gypsum plaster was applied to the surface of the limestone before carving.
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