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Egyptian Art History

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Art History Paper #1

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Statue of an Offering Bearer, c. 1981-1975 BCE (acc. no. 20.3.7) [105]

Estate Figure

Period: Middle Kingdom

Dynasty: Dynasty 12

Reign: early reign of Amenemhat I

Date: ca. 1981–1975 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Southern Asasif, Tomb of Meketre (TT 280, MMA 1101), serdab, MMA excavations, 1920

Medium: Wood, gesso, paint

Dimensions: H. 112 cm (44 1/8 in.); W. 17 cm (6 11/16 in.); D. 46.7 cm (18 3/8 in.)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1920

Accession Number: 20.3.7

I. Description:

An unknown artist created the Statue of an Offering Bearer in 1981-1975 BCE (acc. no. 20.3.7). The sculpture was found in a hidden chamber in the tomb of the royal chief steward Meketre (museum label). Offering bearers were placed in tombs and would represent estates that would provide the spirits with sustenance. Statue of an Offering Bearer depicts a young woman wearing an elaborate dress and jewelry standing with her left foot forward. Her left hand is balancing a basket full of meat on her head. In her right hand she is holding a live duck by its wings. The statue is smaller than life size, standing at four feet tall. The statue was carved out from wood using a subtractive method. Gesso, a primer and paint were used to decorate the wood, adding add details and color. The statue is in remarkable condition. The only signs of deterioration on the statue are the crack in the woman’s left foot and worn and peeling paint are the only signs of deterioration on the statue.

Majestic, goddesss

These materials show the natural aspect the Egyptian culture and the eternity of life.


The statue gives a feeling of life in contrast to the usual Egyptian art. This is interesting and unique.

In ancient Egypt the ideal figure was the god like king.  He is eternally young and his eyes are usually focused in the distance as if he is focusing on focusing on eternity. Additionally, most ancient sculptures have faces that are expressionless. This is because they are not made to show personality they aren’t to show eternity. His body is youthful. It is muscular and athletic. Its simplified and not very detailed. They take a human feature and make it divine. (notes)

It is usually static and formal and without motion, kings were made out of stones.


        The statue is stepping forward on her left leg. A moment in time is captured here. The statue is moving forward. An additional way to look at is the women’s weight is evenly distributed between her two legs. She is balanced and so is the basket on her head. Usually in ancient Egyptian art when ones leg is forward it looks as though all the statues weight is on one leg. In Greek art the weight is distributed evenly. (notes)


The women’s body is a very natural look.

She has long legs, hips and arms. Place meant to arms is laid out naturally.

The statue is made out of wood, which adds to natural feeling. Ideal body.


Her face is very young and beautiful looking. It is very clean and wrinkle free.

Eyes open wide. Looking off in to the distance like in ancient Egyptian art, focus on eternity. Eyes could also be focused on her task of bringing offerings to deceased.


She is wearing all sorts of jewelry. It is beautiful very colorful and detailed. Clothing is traditional Egyptian dress. It is painted in warm, light and beautiful colors.  The clothing is tight on her body to define her ideal and natural body. Headpiece.

Her clothing is covered in feathers in a pattern of feathers that is a garment that is often worn by goddesses.


Her purpose is to bring sustenance the deceased. She has basket full of meat balanced on her head. Additionally, she has a duck that is still alive in her hand.

Egyptian culture believes in the eternity of a person. Even after death one’s life continues.

Everything is balanced evenly, her weight on her legs, the basket on her head.


Artist is unknown

Type of Sculpture: This is a freestanding sculpture

Methods and Materials: This freestanding sculpture was carved out of wood. The wood was carved out in a subtractive matter. The wood is covered in gesso, which is something that acts as a plaster and primer for paint. Paint is used on top to give detail, color and depth to the statue. This natural median of wood senses a natural message through the statue. They allude to the natural sustenance that this offering bearer is bringing to the deceased.

Composition: This statue is both symmetrical and asymmetrical. The woman’s face and body are symmetrical yet; her arms and legs are asymmetrical. Her right leg is out straight and her leg is stepping forward. Her right arm is straight down holding a live duck by its wings. Her left hand is bent upwards holding and stabilizing the basket of meats that is balanced on her head. The basket that is on top of her head is a symmetrical shape. Additionally, the duck itself is symmetrical.

From the shape of the woman’s body it seems as though she was carved out from a long cylinder of wood from a tree. Additionally, the statue is standing on a rectangular base. It looks like the duck and the basket were made separately and later attached as then don’t seem to be part of the woman’s body. Figures like the duck and the basket stick out from the basic shape of the woman’s body.

This statue gives off a strong sense of balance. The basket is balanced evenly on the woman’s head. The woman’s weight is balanced and distributed evenly between her legs.



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