Block Statue of Senwosret-senebefny
Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View: Old Kingdom to 18th Dynasty, Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor
Block statues show their subjects—almost always male—seated on the ground with their knees drawn to their chests; a cloak usually envelops the limbs and torso. The resulting block-like form gives these statues their name.
Block statues first appeared in the Twelfth Dynasty, nearly one thousand years after most statue types had been developed. Some Egyptologists suggest that the invention of such a distinctive sculptural form probably reflected the emergence of new religious ideas. The Twelfth Dynasty witnessed an increase in the belief that a non-royal person’s spirit could be reborn after death. Some scholars have suggested that the block statue represents the spirit as it emerges from a mound in the underworld at the glorious moment of rebirth.
Others see it as a demonstration of the intensification of personal piety that occurred during the period. Most early block statues were found in temples. Because the squatting pose in Egyptian art conveys submission, block statues are thought to depict men observing temple priests as they perform rituals for the gods, like obedient members of an eternal audience.
ca. 1836-1759 B.C.E.
late Dynasty 12
26 7/8 x 16 5/16 x 18 1/8 in., 359 lb. (68.3 x 41.5 x 46 cm, 162.84kg) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
Archaeological provenance not yet documented, possibly from Memphis, Egypt; by at least 1799, acquired by Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte; May 29, 1814, inherited from Josephine Bonaparte by her nephew; between 1814 and 1841, provenance not yet documented; by 1841, acquired by James-Alexandre de Pourtalès, Comte de Pourtalès-Gorgier of Switzerland; March 21, 1865, purchased at Gallerie Pourtalès, “Tableaux Anciens & Modernes Dessins qui composent les Collections de feu M. le Comte de Pourtalès-Gorgier”, vol. 3, lot 4, by Lord William Tyssen-Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst of Hackney, of London, United Kingdom; June 14, 1921, purchased at Sotheby’s London, “The Amherst Collection of Egyptian and Oriental Antiquities”, lot 248, by William Randolph Hearst of California; before 1939, acquired by Parrish-Watson, New York, NY; by 1939, purchased from Parrish-Watson by the Brummer Gallery; 1939, purchased from the Brummer Gallery by the Brooklyn Museum.
Block Statue of Senwosret-senebefny, ca. 1836-1759 B.C.E. Quartzite, 26 7/8 x 16 5/16 x 18 1/8 in., 359 lb. (68.3 x 41.5 x 46 cm, 162.84kg). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 39.602. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 39.602_front_PS9.jpg)
front, 39.602_front_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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