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Work Statuette of King Ammenemes III

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: From the late prehistoric period to the late Middle Kingdom (circa 3800 - 1710 BC)

Statuette of King Ammenemes III

© Musée du Louvre/C. Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
From the late prehistoric period to the late Middle Kingdom (circa 3800 - 1710 BC)

Author(s):
Aït-Kaci Lili

This work emanates strength, youth, and humanity. This fragmentary statuette does not have an inscription, but it has been attributed to Ammenemes III, son and successor of Sesostris III, by comparing the facial features and the gentle modeling with other portrayals. Details such as the material, the features, and the décor on the dagger handle in the belt sets this work apart from other statuary from the Middle Kingdom.

A portrait?

Ammenemes III, the sixth king of the 12th Dynasty, chose a "realistic" style for many of his statuary portraits, as did his father and predecessor, Sesostris III. This small statue presents the king standing, his left leg forward, arms hanging at his sides, and clad in a shendyt kilt and nemes headdress. The uraeus cobra on his forehead is a symbol of protection.
The sculpted features accentuate the sovereign's youth. His underlying bone structure is particularly clear: his eyebrows curve naturally over a flat forehead; he has prominent cheekbones and a strong chin. His eyes are elongated toward the temples and are framed by the thick fold of his eyelids. The delicate cheeks are marked by long, oblique circles under the eyes that thicken at the corners of the mouth. His fleshy lips are joined and form an elegant curve. Certain anatomical details immediately identify this sovereign: the short, slightly hooked nose, and the chin, which is clearly separated from the lower lip by a deep furrow.

A young, armed king

The body is powerful and dynamic, yet the soft modeling of the muscles contributes to the overall impression of youth that emanates from this work. A dagger is tucked into the belt of the kilt. Weapons of this type came from the east. The profile of a falcon, used as a decorative motif on the pommel, is unique in royal representations from this period. This motif became more common during the New Kingdom, as for example, on the famous Colossus of Tutankhamun in the Cairo Museum.

The work of Ammenemes III

During his long reign, Ammenemes III continued the reforms begun by his father, Sesotris III. He reinforced the exploitation and control over the resources in regions near Egypt (Sinai, Lower Nubia), and completed major construction work at Faiyum with the creation of locks, dams, and canals as part of a regular irrigation program for this immense agricultural area. His funerary complex, which adjoins the Hawara pyramid in the Faiyum province, so impressed the Greeks that they described it as a labyrinth: "... It is truly beyond description. If we were to add up the constructions and buildings produced by the Greeks, they would appear inferior to this labyrinth in terms of work and in terms of cost..." (Herodotus's History).

Bibliography

Bresc-Bautier Geneviève, Morvan Frédéric (sous la dir. de),
Louvre : les collections du Louvre, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1999, p. 110, photo couleurs, notice n 107.
Delange Élisabeth, Catalogue des statues égyptiennes du Moyen Empire : 2060-1560 av. J.-C., Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1987, p. 33, notice, photo et bibliographie.
Pierrat-Bonnefois Geneviève, L'Égypte au Louvre : une visite guidée, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, coll. "Chercheurs d'art", 1998, p. 31, commentaire et photo couleurs.

Technical description

  • Statuette of King Ammenemes III

    Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, reign of Ammenemes III (1843-1798 BC)

  • Sculpture in the round, graywacke

    H.: 21.4 cm; W.: 10 cm; D.: 10.3 cm

  • Purchased, older collection

    N 464

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    The Middle Kingdom, c. 2033–1710 BC
    Room 23

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