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Work Queen Tiye

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)

Queen Tiy next to King Amenhotep III

© Musée du Louvre/Chr. Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
The New Kingdom (circa 1550 to circa 1069 BC)

Author(s):
Lili Aït-Kaci

Queen Tiye, the Great Royal Wife of Amenhotep III, once stood beside the king, of whom only the right arm remains. The royal couple was carved from a block of very soft stone called steatite, and embellished with bright green enamel.

The Great Royal Wife was very often portrayed and mentioned during the reign of Amenhotep III. Tiye is represented next to the king in many official portraits, and her name is often included in commemorative royal texts.

Tiye

This incomplete statuette represents Queen Tiye adorned with royal emblems: a vulture skin partly covering her long wig is topped by a tall cap decorated with two long feathers; her left hand, raised to her waist, grasps the floral scepter. She once stood next to her royal husband Amenhotep III, of whom only the right arm remains, wearing arm and wrist bracelets. The columns of text inscribed on the back pillar contain their royal titularies.

A deified royal couple

This work is a perfect example of the artistic style of the reign of Amenhotep. The figure is slender, with small round breasts set rather low, a tiny waist, slightly rounded belly, and wider thighs than hips. A characteristic of the work of artists from the reign of Amenhotep III is the extremely youthful faces. Tiye is no exception, with her round face, large and slightly prominent almond-shaped eyes, turned-up nose, and full lips.

She wears a close-fitting tunic with shoulder straps, covered by a feather garment which was one of the attributes of a goddess and indicates her accession to the world of the gods. Amenhotep had a temple built for his own cult in Soleb (in Nubia), and another dedicated to Tiye in nearby Sedeinga. This small monument in enameled stone thus represents the deified royal couple.

The tribulations of an artwork

Thanks to Champollion, the Musée Royal du Louvre acquired the Salt collection in 1826. It featured some 4000 items—including the lower part of the body of Queen Tiye, which was then stolen during the revolution of July 1830. A few months later, it was mysteriously returned to its place in the Louvre's department of Egyptian Antiquities.

In 1962, the upper part of the statuette turned up on the art market! The Société des Amis du Louvre bought it and gave it to the museum, where it was fitted back onto the first fragment. Perhaps the statuette of Amenhotep III will one day return to join his Great Wife…!

Bibliography

- Les Pharaons, Venise, 2002, notice 193.

- ANDREU G., RUTSCHOWSCAYA M. H., ZIEGLER C., L'Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, notice 51.

- Aménophis III, Le pharaon soleil,  Paris, 1993.
 
- Mémoires d'Egypte, Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, 1990, notice H 11.

- Naissance de l'Ecriture, catalogue d'exposition, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, 1982, notice 213.

- Vingt ans d'acquisitions au musée du Louvre, 1947, 1967, 1967, Paris, 1967, notice 103.

Technical description

  • Queen Tiy next to King Amenhotep III

    1391-1353 BC

  • Glazed steatite

    H. 29 cm; W. 12 cm

  • Gift of the Société des Amis du Louvre, 1962 (E 25493)
    Salt collection, 1826 (N 2312)

    N 2312, E 25493

  • Egyptian Antiquities

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