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Work Statuette de femme nue

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: Religious and funerary beliefs

Naked woman

© Musée du Louvre/Chr. Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
Religious and funerary beliefs

Author(s):
David Élizabeth

This graceful figure is an enigma. We don't know what type of object it is: a statuette or part of a utilitarian object (a handle, perhaps, or a decorative detail on a piece of furniture). The date is also uncertain: the late Eighteenth Dynasty and the Twenty-Second Dynasty have been suggested, which still leaves a range of half a millennium. We know nevertheless that the statuette is made of ivory and is one of the finest works every produced in Egypt.

A woman walking

The young woman is entirely nude, her left leg is forward, and her arms hang down along her sides. She has two horizontal lines on the front of her neck. She is wearing a short, tightly curled wig, with a wide, unadorned band, and she is looking straight ahead. Her upper eyelids and eyebrows are highlighted with a faded line of eyeshadow. A square hole was made in the top of the head; it has since been filled in and covered up rather carelessly. We can therefore no longer estimate the depth of the hole. Was this hole made so that it could be attached to the rod of a small, round metal mirror? The handles of these toiletry items often represented a nude young woman, sometimes with the left leg in a forward position. Many of them are around 10 centimeter long; in the case, the mirror is also around 10 centimeters in diameter. The apparent fragility of the object does not fully contradict this theory. Although the handles are most often wood or bronze, a fairly large number of ivory or bone mirror handles exist.

Delicacy and grace

The young woman has short legs and a long body; narrow, rounded shoulders; a slightly arched back; small but well-rounded breasts; a very high waistline; and shapely thighs and hips. The quality of the carving itself is refined but weak. The head is out of proportion with the body; the shoulders and bust are somewhat narrow, then swell to subtly voluptuous hips. All these stylistic and esthetic elements suggest that the statuette dates from the very late Eighteenth Dynasty or early Nineteenth Dynasty, therefore about 1300 BC.

Bibliography

G. ANDREU, M. H. RUTSCHOWSCAYA, C. ZIEGLER, L'Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, p. 181-182, notice 89.

Technical description

  • Naked woman

  • Ivory

    H. 10.50 cm

  • E 27429

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    The New Kingdom
    Room 26
    Display case 2

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