Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The New Kingdom in the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Fig. 1- Ushabti of Amenhotep III
     The Art History Museum in Vienna has a number of objects from Egypt's New Kingdom. There are ushabti's of Akhenaten and his father, Amenhotep III (see figure 1), a lion hunt scarab from the reign of Amenhotep III and a number of statuettes of non-royal officials. But my two favorite pieces are a fragment of a statue of Tuthmose III (figure 2) and a large statue of Horemhab and the god Horus (see figure 3).

Fig. 2 - Statue of Tuthmose III
     The statue of Tuthmose III reminds me very much of a statue of the same king that is in the Luxor Museum. The king's features are youthful and energetic looking. The Luxor statue was found at Karnak (near pylon 7), but the find spot of the statue in Vienna does not seem to be known for certain. Tuthmose has long been my favorite Egyptian Pharaoh. This is no doubt Professor Breasted's fault as I loved his re-telling of Thutmose's military campaigns based on the professor's translation of the "Battle Annals" carved on a wall at Karnak (see Professor Breasted's book A History of Egypt).

Fig. 3 - Statue od Horemheb and Horus
     The statue of Horemheb is also a favorite of mine. Alabaster is a relatively soft stone and can be worked to show incredible detail, as is done here. The king is shown with a rather interesting crown, essentially the double crown is shown being worn on top of a Nemes headdress. Horus is shown wearing the double crown only. As a king, Horemheb is an important transitional ruler as he bridges the end of Dynasty 18 and the start of Dynasty 19. He was a commoner, who became a top military commander and later came to the throne after the death of the Pharaoh Aye. Horemheb seems to have designated another general, named Ramesses as his successor and this general, as Ramesses I, becomes the first king of the Nineteenth Dynasty.

Photographs copyright 2012 by John Freed

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