Go to content Go to navigation Go to search Change language

Home>Collection & Louvre Palace>Curatorial Departments>Furniture leg in the form of a nude woman

Work Furniture leg in the form of a nude woman

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Objects from everyday life

Furniture leg in the form of a nude woman

© Musée du Louvre/C. Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
Objects from everyday life

Author(s):
Pierrat-Bonnefois, Geneviève

Many examples of ancient Egyptian furniture still exist, preserved by the hot dry climage of the Nile Valley. This one, a simple furniture leg, is an exceptional piece of elaborate carving, made from a branch of ebony. It probably comes from Napata, the capital of Nubia, rather than Egypt. This city was downriver from the fourth cataract of the Nile.

A furniture leg

A nude woman is perched on a cylindrical base. Her head supports a heavy curved element with two perpendicular mortices, designed to support a frame. This sculpture is, in fact, a small decorative column for a piece of furnutire, a chair, or a bed. The entire object was carved from a single piece of beautiful, dark reddish-brown ebony. The original surface of the wood and the knots are still visible behind and to the left of the figure.

Ebony

Ebony comes from African countries south of Egypt. We therefore assume that an Egyptian cabinetmaker chose this imported wood for its rarity. Yet is it unusual to see furniture legs from ancient Egypt in the shape of an entire female figure. The ebony and generous female forms suggest another possibility: this piece of furniture was instead made in Napata, in other words, in the Nubian kingdom, sometime in the 8th or 7th century BC.
King Piankhy invaded Egypt around 715 BC; his successors formed the 25th Egyptian Dynasty, during which the two realms were ruled by a single king, until 664 BC.
.

An object produced in Napata?

At this time, art from the Napata kingdom used many Egyptian motifs. They were adapted to local usage and, during the 25th Dynasty, Egyptian art was in turn influenced by its southern neighbor. Women's curves are accentuated, the bodies were stocky with large breasts and hefty thighs, in keeping with the canons of feminine beauty during the 25th Dynasty. These forms also appear in everyday faience and terracotta objects, and even in bronze pieces. The particularly round face and the very short, rounded hair style indicates that this is probably a Nubian woman. The shape of her face, and the fact that the work is made of ebony, suggests that this piece of furniture was produced in the Napata region.

Technical description

  • Furniture leg in the form of a nude woman

    Third Intermediate Period, 25th Dynasty, 715-656 BC

  • Carved ebony

    H.: 45.2 cm

  • Purchased 1882

    E 7652

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Materials and techniques
    Room 7

Practical information

The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays
 
Closed on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25
 
Musée du Louvre, 75058 Paris - France
Métro: Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7)
Tel.: +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17
 

Buy tickets