Egyptian, New Kingdom, Dynasty XVIII, c. 1355-1335 BC
Akhenaton, husband to the beautiful Nefertiti, is often referred to as the "Heretic King" for his monotheistic revolution in which he banished all of Egypt's traditional gods in favor of the Aton, represented by the sun disc. He is also known for encouraging a more naturalistic approach to royal portraiture. If this is truly the case Akhenaton cut quite an unusual figure. Some have speculated that his bizarre appearance may have been due to the practice of incest among the royal family.
Study of Details
This statue is a good example of why it is important to see works of art in person. A photograph fails miserably in projecting the aura of almost menacing power that this piece projects. Scale is very important in this case—even in its damaged state Akhenaton looms over the viewer at an intimidating 13 feet in height. He also has all the accoutrements of kingship:
- the cobra crown
- the false beard
- the crook and flail in his hands (the crook has been damaged)
- the royal cartouches on his stomach and collar bones