King Menkure and His Queen:
George Reisner of Harvard University discovered the statue of King Menkure and his Queen from their resting place beneath the Pyramid of Giza on January 18, 1910. The statue now is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Baltimore, Maryland. It is believed to be dated back to 2548 BCE and is a royal sculpture from the fourth dynasty. King Menkure and his queen sculpture can be viewed in The Western Humanities textbook by Roy T. Matthews on page 23 or various websites such as Boston Museum of Fine Arts online.
Carved out of greywacke, a dark color sandstone, the statue was then polished to give it a smoother finish. The base, backdrop, and the queen’s feet were left unpolished, and show a rougher texture. This leaves a great contrast between the different areas of the sculpture adding a sense of focal area to the polish parts which are thought of to be greater importance, such as the king being completely polished.
The sculpture stands four feet eight inches tall, bringing life- like size to the median. The size of the sculpture makes one understand the power of the King and Queen, showing their importance by the size of the artwork. King Menkure stands slightly taller than his Queen. Both the King and Queen are well proportion and seem to have been portrayed as the ideal body shape and form for men and women at the time. King Menkure being shown wearing a nemes, and the shape of his beard portrays his rank among the royal and idolized class. In true Egyptian fashion he has his left foot extended, and muscular arms straight to the sides with clenched fist. Correct anatomically detail was used on King Menkure’s body with the exception of the shins which are to well-defined, along with his knees. The artist used straight lines for detail on his legs, and left them looking unrealistic.
The queen that is present in the statue is believed to be Queen Khamerenerbty, but her identity has never been able to be confirmed. She is shown wearing a traditional ceremonial wig, and her natural hairline can be seen sticking out on her forehead. Ceremonial wigs were worn by women of high class, such as those of the royal family. Queen Khamerenerbty is portrayed as slender, wearing a tight fitting dress which makes her appear almost nude. The shape of her breast, navel, and pubic area are shown. What is known as the pubic triangle was portrayed in artwork of higher-class women to show fertility. Queen Khamerenerbty’s left foot is slightly forward, but less than King Menukre showing the lower role in the relationship the women had. She also is standing slightly behind him, with one arm around him, and the other one on his arm. Those particular features show the respect she had for him, and her subordinate role in the relationship.
The statue flows well throughout and shows a good sense of harmony. The queen shoulder is slightly behind King Menkure body, making the two bodies flow together. The solid lines of the statue create a continuous flow interpreted only by the smooth curves to define their bodies. The use of deeper lines throughout King Menkure arms shows the definition of his muscle tone, and softer lines used in Queen Khamerenerbty face gives her a more feminine look.
Today the statue is still in good shape, other than some color that was believed to have been present and with time has faded. Art historians believe that Queen Khamerenerbty likely had jewelry painted on, and outlines of her clothing were painted which presently is hard to see. The artist placed the statue on a base to help it withstand the test of time. The statue was down in two-dimensional and can only be viewed from the front, and side. It is believe the statue was made to be placed against a wall. Being two dimensional gives it an effect of being realistic without being too protruding.
From the clothing worn to the stature of the King and Queen, it gives off a sense of power, and respect to the viewer. They are portrayed as being high-class individuals who were idolized in various ways from their ranks, to body forms, and their sense of youth. With emotionless faces, and ageless bodies the King and Queen seem to give off a mysterious and majestic vibe to them. When analyzing this piece I feel as respect should be given to them. It brings out a sense of happiness with their current situation, but looking ahead blankly to what may happen. The statue was down in great detail, and made to make others idolize them. A wonderful piece of artwork that shows the true beauty in Egyptian royalty and artwork.
Witcombe, Christopher L. “Women in Egypt: Menkaure and His Queen: 2. Description.” Christopher L. C.
E. Witcombe. Web. 04 Feb. 2012. <http://witcombe.sbc.edu/menkaure/menkaure-statue.html>.