Queen Nefertiti: Isn’t She Lovely?

This sculpture of Queen Nefertiti of ancient Egypt is arresting because she is beautiful in the twenty-first-century sense of the word.  She easily could be on the cover of Vogue.  Her set jaw and her large almond-shaped eyes that gaze downward betray an air of authority and strength that matches the very real power that she enjoyed.

Archaeologists discovered this sculpture among the ruins in the studio of Thutmose, the master sculptor for King Pharaoh Akhenaten, who was Nefertiti’s husband.  The sculptural style associated with Akhenaten is quite stylized and very unnatural.  By contrast, even though Nefertiti’s face certainly is idealized in its symmetry, it does look like a real person or an actual portrait.  This may be a master sculpture that artists kept in their studio as a model for other sculptures of the same person.

Queen Nefertiti, c. 1348-1336/5 BCE, Limestone, 19” high, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Ägyptisches Museum. Photo by Nina-no, Creative Commons Attributions License, via Wikimedia, Public Domain Queen Nefertiti, c. 1348-1336/5 BCE, Limestone, 19” high, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Ägyptisches Museum. Photo by Magnus Manske, Creative Commons Attributions License, via Wikimedia, Public Domain

 

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