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Sculptor's Trial Piece of Nefertiti

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Amarna Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
The style of art changed drastically at the beginning of the Amarna period, and both students and seasoned sculptors had to quickly adapt their skills. They practiced on pieces of limestone like this one.

The lightly incised image of Nefertiti is in the more delicate style of late Amarna art. Nefertiti’s face almost completely lacks modeling, and her tall crown is abruptly cut off at the top, suggesting that the image was not meant to be part of a larger scene but rather served as a sculptor’s trial piece.
MEDIUM Limestone
  • Place Made: Tell el-Amarna, Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1352-1332 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late XVIII Dynasty
    PERIOD New Kingdom, Amarna Period
    DIMENSIONS 4 × 2 3/16 × 9 in. (10.2 × 5.6 × 22.8 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Amarna Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 35.1997
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Sculptor's Trial Piece of Nefertiti, ca. 1352-1332 B.C.E. Limestone, 4 × 2 3/16 × 9 in. (10.2 × 5.6 × 22.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society, 35.1997. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , CUR.35.1997_NegA_print_bw.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.35.1997_NegA_print_bw.jpg., 2016
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Oblong limestone block apparently a sculptor’s study piece. On one side is a head of Nerfertiti, in sunk relief, wearing a high crown. There is no uraeus. The workmanship is good and the piece is typical of its period. On the back side are three figures, to the left is a feather sign, in the center is the trace of a skirt and a right foot, the latter unfinished. At the extreme right is the hieroglyph for “T”. Condition: The face of the head of the queen is in practically perfect condition. The head is cut off about halfway up the crown which is apparently as it was originally made. The back of the piece is considerably chipped, a part of the feather sign and shirt are missing. The fracture suggests the sculptor deliberately eradicated these details.
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