Thursday, July 3, 2014 B
"At Last, Ancient Egyptian!"

From the Egyptian-style Assyrian pieces, at last we arrived in the Egyptian galleries. So many lovely pieces of which I'd only seen photos. The "Boston Green Head" is much smaller than I'd thought, which further serves to show the skill of the sculptor, to give such a sense of monumentatily to a head only 10.5cm (4 1/2 in) high!

Head of a priest (The Boston Green Head)
Graywacke, Saqqara, Serapeum, Dyn. 30, 381–343 B.C.E.
HxWXD: 10.5 x 8.5 x 11.3 cm (4 1/8 x 3 3/8 x 4 7/16 in.)
"This head of a priest, called the Boston Green Head, is one of the finest portraits of antiquity, wonderfully lifelike and individual. Light wavy lines furrow his brow, and crow’s feet radiate from the outer corners of his eyes. The top of his nose has a pronounced bony ridge. Deep creases run from the edges of his nose to the corners of his mouth. Thin lips and a downturned mouth impart an expression of strength and determination. The slight wart on his left cheek is unique in Egyptian art and also introduces an element of asymmetry dear to the artists of the Late Period.

"The subject's name is not preserved on what remains of the inscription on the back pillar, which mentions only the Memphite funerary deity Ptah-Sokar."(From the info card and museum website)
Purchased of Edward P. Warren Pierce Funs, 1904; MFA #04.1749

From the 30th Dynasty, I go back to the 4th Dynasty to recall Prince Ankh-haf's bust, for similar subtlety of portrayal:

Bust of Prince Ankh-haf
From Giza, tomb G 7510, Dyn. 4, reign of Khafra, 2520–2494 B.C.E.
Painted limestone, Height: 50.48 cm (19 7/8 in.)
"This sculpture is unique: the rendering of a portrait, or true likeness, the bust format, and the painted plaster modeling overlaying the limestone carving are almost unparalled in Egyptian art.
"Ankh-haf (whose name means 'Life is with him') was 'King's eldest son,' according to inscriptions in his tomb, possibly a song of King Snefru (2630-2606 B.C.E) and a minor queen. He served as vizier, or chief administrator, under King Khafre (2520–2494 B.C.E.). He may have overseen the building of the second pyramid and carving of the sphinx. His tomb is the second-largest of all the mastaba tombs at Giza, and dominates the royal cemetary of the east side of the Great Pyramid.
"His bust was installed in a mudbrick chapel attached to the east side of the tomb and oriented so that it faced the chapel's entryway. The chapel walls were covered in exquisitely modeled low relief. It has been suggested that Ankhhaf's arms were sculpted on the low pedestal on which he sat, thereby making him appear even more lifelike. Passersby left more than ninety models of food and drink for Ankhhaf to enjoy in the afterlife." (From the info card and museum website)
Museum Expedition, MFA #27.442

As marvelous as his portrayal, he lacks ears! They must have been applied afterwards and gotten lost:

(Photos all © Joan Lansberry

King Menkaure's greywacke sculptures, also from the 4th dynasty, are exquisite. I tried to capture them from many angles, (the one of him with deities here and the one of him with his wife here.)

One teaser photo...
Oh, yes, we had a Set sighting! Julia was first to point it out on Meresankh's sarcophagus, (She who sees Horus and Set.)

Red granite sarcophagus of Meresankh II
From Giza, tomb G 7410 B, Dynasty 4, 2606-2550 B.C.E.
Museum Expedition, MFA #27.441a & b

"One who sees Horus and Seth, Meresankh."

"Daughter of King Khufu and sister or half-sister of King Khafre, Meresankh II was buried in the royal mastaba field east of the Great Pyramid. She should not be confused with her niece,Meresankh III, whose pair statue is also on view in this gallery." (Photos all © Joan Lansberry

Another memorable moment was examining the sarcophagus which Queen Hatshepsut had recut for her father:

Sarcophagus of Queen Hatshepsut, recut for her father, Thutmose I
Thebes, Valley of the Kings, tomb KV 20, New Kingdom, Dyn. 18, reign of Hatshepsut, 1473-1458 B.C.E.
Gift of Theodore M. Davis, 1904, MFA #04.278

I explored the carvings on the inside, as well as the outside. The eyes cut on the outside were also cut on the inside, in the exact cooresponding place! In this way, the soul of its inhabitant could look out to see:

Outer first, then inner...

Similarly, the engravings of the deities are also matched. Anpu on the outside and Anpu on the inside allow the powers of the Netjer to more easily pass through to the occupant:


A memorable meal of baked chicken and aspargus, along with a shared dessert of honeycake gave Julia and I sufficient strength to see the remainder of the ancient Egyptian galleries, and the temporary Magna Carta exhibit. There's such amazing tiny script on the carta, so tiny and yet so exact and perfect!

We will return another day for the Impressionists...

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