Mountainous Landscape, 1720s by Alessandro Magnasco (1667–1749)
Christ as the Good Shepherd, mosaic from the entrance wall of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy, ca. 425.
Hatshepsut in a Devotional Attitude, Deir el-Bahri, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1473–1458 BC
For the ancient Egyptians, the ideal king was a young man in the prime of life. The physical reality was of less importance, so an old man, a baby, or even a woman who held the titles of pharaoh could be represented in this ideal form, as in this representation of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. Although many of Hatshepsut’s statues depict her as the ideal king, the inscriptions always allude to her feminine gender, sometimes by using both masculine and feminine grammatical forms, sometimes by including her personal name, Hatshepsut, which means “foremost of noble women.”
This statue was one of a pair that stood on either side of a granite doorway on the upper terrace of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri. The pose, with both hands open and resting on the front of the kilt, is a devotional gesture that was first used in statues of the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senwosret III who lived some three hundred years before Hatshepsut. Senwosret had dedicated six statues of this type in the temple of the Middle Kingdom’s founder, Mentuhotep II, which is just south of Hatshepsut’s temple. As happened throughout Egyptian history, the official architecture and sculpture produced in Hatshepsut’s reign was influenced by prototypes developed in earlier periods.
Sphinx of Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahri, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1473–1458 BC
This colossal sphinx portrays the female pharaoh Hatshepsut with the body of a lion and a human head wearing a nemes headcloth and royal beard. The sculptor has carefully observed the powerful muscles of the lion as contrasted to the handsome, idealized face of the pharaoh. It was one of at least six granite sphinxes that stood in Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri. Smashed into many fragments at the order of Hatshepsut’s nephew and successor Thutmose III and dumped in a quarry close by, this beast was recovered by the Museum’s Egyptian Expedition and reassembled. It weighs more than seven tons.
Part of a second sphinx of Hatshepsut (31.3.164) is on display in gallery 115. The sphinx has a long history in Egyptian art, the most famous example being the great sphinx at Giza which represents the Fourth Dynasty King Khafre who lived almost a thousand years before Hatshsepsut. Sphinxes representing other pharaohs may be seen throughout the Egyptian galleries.