Statue of Hatshepsut seated

My ARCHAEO-Crush for September is an amazing statue of a female pharaoh at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.

The delicate and feminine features of the great New Kingdom female pharaoh. (Photo by yours truly taken during a trip to the Met in 2011)

The delicate and feminine features of the great New Kingdom female pharaoh. (Photo by yours truly taken during a trip to the Met in 2011)

Type: artefact (sculpture)
Civilisation: Ancient Egypt
Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, joint reign Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III (circa 1479–1458 BC)
ARCHAEO-Crush: Queen Hatshepsut is undoubtedly the most remarkable female pharaoh of Egyptian history. Daughter of Pharaoh Thutmosis I and wife of Thutmosis II, her half-brother, she found herself at the death of her husband the regent of a young boy king, Thutmosis III–who is both her nephew and her stepson. (Thutmosis III was the son of Thutmosis II and his second wife Isis.) At the beginning, she is not opposed to the reign of this five year old child because as the wife of the deceased king she is regent and has all the powers necessary to rule the country on the young king’s behalf. However, a few years later–with the support of powerful officials–she is crowned pharaoh, usurping her stepson/nephew’s throne. While she may appear to be the evil stepmother of fairy tales, her reign is nonetheless peaceful and prosperous. She dedicates her energies to artistic endeavours and architectural projects (her funerary temple at Deir el-Bahri is one of her remarkable constructions).
The statue presented here shows Hatshepsut in the royal accoutrement of a male pharaoh wearing a kilt and the nemes headdress.  Yet her delicate features are utterly feminine and graceful. There is not doubt that this is the face of a woman. I find this particular statue incredibly beautiful and delicate, even if stone sculptures in ancient Egypt tend to be very heavy and blockish.
Bucket list status: Every time I’m at the Met, I go see Hatshepsut…
Additional information:  There are a number of statues portraying Hatshepsut in that particular gallery at the Met. However, this one (object # MMA 29.3.2) is displayed at all by herself and softly illuminated the end of the room, seated majestically.

2 thoughts on “Statue of Hatshepsut seated

  1. Ironically, the smashing of Hatshepsut’s statues at Deir el-Bahri by agents of her successor Thutmose III may have ensured their survival into modern time as the fragments were buried out of reach of weather and thieves. The Met also owns a lovely seated Hatshepsut in rose granite with precisely the same face, headcloth, and uraeus diadem (now missing), except that she wears a sleeveless dress instead of the shendyt kilt she has on in the limestone. It was this granite that came to San Francisco about 10 years ago on a special Hatshepsut exhibition, along with many artworks and practical items including tools, although for some reason the limestone piece wasn’t shown out West despite its entry in the catalog.

    • This pink granite statue of Hatshepsut you mention is actually shared by the Met and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden (Netherlands). Several fragments of it were found by the Met in the 1920s, but the torso, discovered in 1869, was in the Netherlands. It’s pretty cool that the two institutions decided to join all the fragments and share custody of the sculpture. That statue of Hatshepsut wearing a woman’s dress and the royal headdress (truly attesting to the fact that she was a female pharaoh) is currently in Leiden.

      Also, it’s not unusual that some works of art presented in an exhibition don’t travel to all the venues (even if they are featured in the catalogue). It happens more often than you think… and for various reasons, too.

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