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Limestone statue of a husband and wife


Height: 130.000 cm

EA 36

Room 4: Egyptian sculpture

    Limestone statue of a husband and wife

    From Egypt
    18th or 19th Dynasty, around 1300 BC

    An unidentified couple

    We do not know the names of this couple, or where their statue originated, though a number of similar statues have been found in Saqqara. The largest monuments of this period at Saqqara are tombs such as those of Horemheb and Maya, which, with their impressive gateways, colonnaded courts and complex chapels, are often known as 'temple-tombs'. They have only been properly excavated in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

    The man wears a long detailed wig, and a long robe with long wide sleeves, while his wife has a large enveloping wig and a long-sleeved dress. The style of the figures is characteristic of sculpture of the later years of the Eighteenth Dynasty, around the reign of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC), and the early years of the Nineteenth Dynasty (begins 1295 BC).

    Henry Moore (1898-1986), one of the most internationally renowned British artists of the twentieth century, was a frequent visitor to The British Museum. Moore once said: '... nine-tenths of my understanding and learning about sculpture came from The British Museum'. He particularly admired this statue, and it was the inspiration for his King and Queen (1952-53), now in the Tate Gallery, London. In 1998, as part of a tribute on the centenary of his birth, the Tate Gallery kindly lent the King and Queen to The British Museum. The two couples were placed together in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery as if in conversation.

    G.T. Martin, The hidden tombs of Memphis: n (London, Thames and Hudson, 1991)

    T.G.H. James, Ancient Egypt: the land and it (London, 1988)


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