Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, July 29, 2010

From Paul Rymer:

Got pretty excited yesterday on a visit to the Louvre, saw a piece probably from the workshop of Tuthmose I'd never seen before and lightbulbs started going as to who it might represent!

Have a look at the photos I've just uploaded to Flickr at:

They are of the head of a man in Room 25 of The Louvre, maybe a recent addition. Its of very high quality, and the resemblance to Nefertiti in particular is strong; but it also reminds me of Tiye, Akhenaten and even Tutankhamun. 

If this were Ay, and if as has been often proposed, Ay is the brother of Tiye and the father of Nefertiti, the resemblance to the royal house makes sense. Who else could this be? The portrait is not Akhenaten (wrong jaw shape for a start), it's too old and too different to any of the known or assumed portraits of Smenkhkare or Tutankhamun. Amenhotep III? No, this man is very different. 

The only other portrait that looks somewhat like this is the depiction of Ay in the tomb of Tutankhamun - it has the same jawline (notably different than Tut's), a similar nose and distance between the nose, lips and chin. 

I'm surprised this piece isn't more widely known.


Kiya said...

This bust in known as "Salt's Head". Do you also think it represents Ay?
It looks back on Nefertiti Bust, without color. Look at lips, cheekbone and eyes... So, why not Akhenaton?

rymerster said...

Akhenaton, in most depictions (including the head adjacent to this one in the Louvre) has fuller lips, a more prominent chin, a longer nose and more space between the nose and top lip. This guy looks similar, as if from the same family, but different. To me, he looks more like Nefertiti, but in the lips somewhat like Tiye. So, I speculate it's a male relative of Nefertiti and Tiye, who could be Ay. Furthermore, the profile fits the named depiction of Ay in the tomb of Tutankhamun.

I'm very interested in other's opinions and will look up some more about "Salt's Head" - by the way it was not labelled as such in the Louvre.

Anonymous said...

Noblecourt says of this piece:
Former State Museum, Berlin
Height 10.6 ins

"This plaster mask, from the workshop of Thoutmes at Tell el Amarna, is unquestionably taken from life. It is the portrait of a determined, shrewd, rather ruthless person of unquestioned energy. The heavy lids
have perhaps been re-touched and the sinuous line of the eyebrows
gives the expression a certain sharpness. The nose is strong, the mouth fairly large and extremely individualistic and the muscle at either end is marked. The forehead is lined. We are not able to identify this face although it must certainly have belonged to one of the actors of the
Amarna drama."
Agree, could be Ay

Kate Phizackerley said...

I'd have expected Ay to be older in an Amarnan statue. I agree it doesn't match other representations of Akhenaten. It obviously is neither Tutankhamun nor Smenkhare. Of them all Akhenaten seems least implausible but I'm still not certain we've identified all of the dramatis personae from the period so HRH A.N.Other is also a possibility.

stewarth99 said...

Maybe you're reading too much into this. The surface looks to be unfinished - probably deliberately - so that it can be used as a base for finer stucco that could be painted and have make-up added. Nefertiti's bust is made up of several layers and has a limestone core. This link may give you more insight

Andie said...

I have no idea who it might be, but it is a remarkable piece which I don't recall having seen before. Apparently it fascinated the British modern artist Francis Bacon. Many thanks for sharing it.

Stephanie said...

This piece is new to me as well and it is most striking how life=like it looks in the side-view.
The front view reveals unusual features in that the right eye appears to be larger than the left one and almost too large for a male (though the face is undoubtedly male). Only the right side of the mouth is curved giving the impression of a one-sided smile.
As I think these inconsistencies were not intended I guess this might be the work of an unexperienced artist, maybe Thutmose`s apprentice?
The other possibility is as already pointed out that this could be the raw core of an artifact intended to be covered with several layers of other materials.

Talking of similarities, it really reminds of Nefertiti and to a less extent of the Amarna royals.
The nose though is distinctive and very different from the slim small noses of Akhenaten&co. The broad fleshy nose represented here is similar only to Yuya`s nose and could point to this individual being Aye if one believes he was a close relative of Yuya.

rymerster said...

I don't think it was unfinished - the head is painted, with considerable detail including alternating shades of brown to appear natural, and black to show that the head, although shaved, had some growth. When I first saw the head it was from behind and I expected it to be one of the reconstructions of Tutankhamun, it appeared that realistic. It's only when I got closer that I realised what it could be. Kate, it might not show in the photos but it does not represent a young person - it's clearly someone middle aged.

We don't know how old Ay was but if he were a younger brother to Tiye and Anen he could feasibly be 5 or even 10 years younger and still be in the correct age range for his station, and as well to have lived through another 15 + years to reign himself.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I appreciate it shows and gentleman whom today we would recognise as middle-aged. At a rough estimate, Nefertiti was perhaps 15 - 35 during the Amarnan period. Her own famous bust shows a woman of 30+ Ay, we believe was a generation older, so probably 30 - 55 during Akhenaten's reign. I just don't see a man that age in the statue.

s stockwell said...

It is a pleasure to contemplate just who this sculpture might depict and a big “thank you” to you, Kate, for continuing to provide these fascinating puzzles for all of us to play with. I can only make my guesses using the photos that are found on the net and not with any real in person examination of the art pieces. I did noticed some possible points of interest.

When we compare a head attributed to Aye, we see a very raw boned individual and in drawings he appears slim. Check out the photo (page down to third picture).

Checking the similarity with Horemheb who would have been significant in Amarna. Notice the same apparently bulbous fleshy nose in the piece pictured in the link below.

Another remarkable feature that stands out in the pictures of the head in question on flicker are the large ears. These are obscured by headdress in the Horemheb sculpture but the head of Aye shows small ears flat to the head.

Comparisons to Nefertiti may not point up many similarities because the mystery head lacks the eye and lip details that have traditionally been her signature features. I do think the reference to Thuya is interesting.

Enjoying the puzzle and intrigued to see what everyone will come up with. Best, s

Stephanie said...

Kate, I don`t see why the age should be problematic. After all we don`t know anything about Aye`s age at death and it is pure assumption that he died as an old man.
The only thing that is sure is that he was "God`s Father" to Akhenaten which is usually thought to be either his mentor or his father-in-law. As mentor he could still have been a young man himself at the beginning of maybe 18-20. As father-in-law he would have been somewhat older than that maybe 35 at least. This artifact could easily show a man of 30-40.
What is more important the individual would have been prominent at court evem more so as the artifact possibly comes from the royal workshop. This applies certainly to Aye, but I`m not sure if Horemheb would have been prominent enough at that time. He probably gathered experience in administrative and/or military tasks during Akhenaten`s reign to be appointed to such important posts at the beginning of Tut`s reign, but AFAIK there is no known connection to the royal court of Akhetaten for Horemheb. His identity with Pa-Aten-em-heb is also very questionable. So it is unlikely IMO that he is depicted here. The features of the husband-and-wife statue attributed toHoremheb may have been influenced by the features of the royal family as it was deemed fashionable among courtiers to look like "them". It is thus difficult to establish similarities between Horemheb`s known sculpture and the one in question.

s stockwell said...

Horemheb was Ankhetaten's "Great Commander of the Army" and won some significant battles that would have made him much celebrated. also, it looks like the mystery head has a broken nose? He has the look of a large more fleshy person? When we compare the head with known sculptures of Queen Tiye, it is seemingly clear to see that the head attributed to Aye (see earlier comment) has much more in common and looks more like a sibling. The quest is still alive.

rymerster said...

Sue - I can't get the link with the proposed portrait of Ay - in my browser the end of the URL seems to be cut off.

rymerster said...

Apologies S Stockwell - I didn't mean to call you Sue - just shows how difficult it is identifying live people correctly never mind those from thousands of years ago!

Dennis said...

It's a fake. French sculptor. Right handed.

s stockwell said...

For rymerster, here is the link to the sculpted head though to be Aye. Sorry the other was not complete.

s stockwell said...

keeps cutting the link? try it this way?

rymerster said...

Thankyou for the link.

I'm interested in seeing more images of the Medinet Habu statue of Aye, because it seems to match the facial features shown in the tomb of Tutankhamun, wheras the head proposed to be Ay does not, though I agree there's something of a resemblance to Tiye.

However, who else could that be? Horemheb or Ramesses I would have been middle aged or old within the timeframe.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Dave Hay has suggested that it bears a resemblance to a head in the Berlin museum and I have to say I agree. Not sure if there is a link to that head?

rymerster said...

Is it this one?

Anonymous said...

cant find this link Paul to have a look at the photo. Daveh

Anonymous said...

It is the "tête Salt" (inv. N 2289).
And it's indeed a problematic piece (a lot of literature was produced about it in the 1st half of the XXth century).
It cannot come from Tell el-Amarna (and so the workshop of Thoutmes) & from the Egyptian Museum in Berlin as it was part of Henry Salt's collection, whose second collection was acquired by the Louvre in 1826 (hence its name).
I think it will be included in the forthcoming publication of the Louvre NK private statues. Otherwise check J.-J. Fiechter Egyptian Fakes:
Masterpieces That Duped the Art World and the Experts Who Uncovered Them.

Hope this helps.


Witlessd said...

Here it is again, marked "Old Kingdom," which seems a possible dating, but not entirely convincing...

... which is precisely what can be said of the attribution to the 18th Dynasty. This sort of stylistic vagueness should ring alarm bells. It looks wrong. It feels wrong. I'm sure it's a fake.

Marianne Luban said...

It certainly has more in common with OK sculptures that I've seen.
Museums are full of fakes. Some get discovered by one means or another, some perhaps never will. Somewhere there is a website of AE fakes that got caught--or at least there used to be. It was a most interesting website.

Anonymous said...

This statue is real bad forgery!

An ancient egyptian sculptor has get cut off his hands for a piece like that!

The eyes are different in style.
The mouth is bend down on one side.
The patina is well known from other fakes.
The complete head is out of style...


"The Restorer"

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