When Queen Tiyi was presented as “a Ptolemaic king” …

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Egyptologist In Training! 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖 on Instagram: “Detail of a statue of  Queen Tiye, the Great Royal Wife of Amenhote… | Ancient egypt, Egyptian  history, Egypt queen
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Or; ~ And Goddess made Woman in her own Image

What we as human search and find but sometimes, through our ego get some certainties, puzzles me always. We must know that we don’t know first, then when we think twice, we might guess the answers and look through it again and again to find the right one!

Here I just want to present a pure beauty of the creation on this earth; we must be stunned now and then how far can the elegance go. This created art is fascinating, a beauty itself;

With many thanks to Marie Grillot http://Marie Grillot · Égypte-actualités for her amazing description of this find. Translated from French. via https://egyptophile.blogspot.com/

Queen Tiyi – Limestone – New Kingdom – XVIIIth Dynasty – Reign of Amenhotep III
From the tomb of Userhat (TT 47) – Necropolis of el-Khokha – Thebes west
Sold at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, April 10-12, 1905, lot n ° 91 from the Paul Philip collection Acquired by Jean Capart for the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts of Brussels
Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels – E 2157 – photo MRAH

This sculpted portrait of Queen Tiyi, great royal wife of Amenhotep III, mother of Akhenaton, seduces us with its beauty and gentleness. The sculptor who made it seems to have barely scratched the white limestone with his finest chisel, to turn it into a work of art imbued with femininity and perfection.

The queen is shown in profile – the left – and wears a ceremonial headdress. Her tripartite, smooth wig is surrounded by a diadem adorned on the forehead with two uraei which stand out in relief: one wears the red crown (decheret) of Lower Egypt, while the other wears the white crown. (hedjet) from Upper Egypt. The back of the tiara is embellished with an intricately carved falcon which spreads its long protective wings. Between his talons, he holds the shen sign, symbol of eternity.

Queen Tiyi – Limestone – New Kingdom – XVIIIth Dynasty – Reign of Amenhotep III
From the tomb of Userhat (TT 47) – Necropolis of el-Khokha – Thebes west
Sold at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, April 10-12, 1905, lot n ° 91 from the Paul Philip collection acquired by Jean Capart for the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts of Brussels
Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels – E 2157 – photo MRAH

The wig is surmounted by a mortar encircled by seven-disc uraei, the first three have suffered: their upper part is missing. This modius is surmounted by two tall ostrich feathers of which only the base remains.

The queen’s face is perfect: her almond-shaped eye surmounted by a beautifully arched eyebrow, her nose of ideal proportions, her delicate ear, near which – a charming detail – appears a short lock of hair and her mouth whose lips full seem to sketch a slight smile.

Her shoulders and her breast are soft and round. Of the flagellum – fly swatter – which she held in one hand, only the upper part is now visible. Its long curved stem opens onto a lotus.

Queen Tiyi – Limestone – New Kingdom – XVIIIth Dynasty – Reign of Amenhotep III
From the tomb of Userhat (TT 47) – Necropolis of el-Khokha – Thebes west
Sold at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, April 10-12, 1905, lot n ° 91 from the Paul Philip collection acquired by Jean Capart for the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts of Brussels
Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels – E 2157 – photo MRAH

This portrait aroused as much wonder as admiration, sparking just as many interesting analyzes and studies!

“It is executed in a more traditional style than many of the images we know of it. It represents one of the peaks of the art of official portraiture. In a play of flexible and elegant lines, the artist idealized the facial features, the upper lip a little heavy, the fold of the mouth with sagging corners (Woman in the time of the pharaohs – Six works of art from the Egyptian collection of the Royal Museums of Art and History).

“The style is of rare elegance, particularly as regards the face. It will be observed that making use of a relief barely three millimetres thick, the sculptor manages to render both the gaze (shadow amassed towards the front of the eye), the palpitation of the nostrils and the sensuality of the mouth “. (Pierre Gilbert, in “Ancient Mediterranean”).

“The smooth whiteness of the bare limestone softens subtle indications of the queen’s age, such as the very slight puffiness on the cheeks. Her hair is smooth; the artist may have intended to paint the details” (Arielle Kozloff in “Amenophis III, the sun pharaoh”).

“Tiyi’s recognizable features are also reminiscent of those of her husband. It was the custom, in Egyptian art, to attribute to gods and humans something of the physiognomy of the reigning king, which was the best pledge of union between the ones and the others. But here, the resemblance has undoubtedly more significance. The understanding often marked by Amenophis III between him and Tiy is reflected in the face of this one, where the resemblance becomes a sign of reciprocal amorous happiness (The Reign of the Sun Akhnaton and Nefertiti).

Queen Tiyi – Limestone – New Kingdom – XVIIIth Dynasty – Reign of Amenhotep III
From the tomb of Userhat (TT 47) – Necropolis of el-Khokha – Thebes west
Sold at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, April 10-12, 1905, lot n ° 91 from the Paul Philip collection acquired by Jean Capart for the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts of Brussels
Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels – E 2157
Relief photographed “in situ”, in TT 47, published by Howard Carter
in the “Annals of the Antiquities Service of Egypt, Volume IV, 1902-1903”

This magnificent relief comes from the Theban tomb of Userhat, guardian of the royal harem of the temple of Amenhotep III, located in the necropolis of el-Khokha. In the “Annals of the Antiquities Service of Egypt, Volume IV, 1902-1903″, Howard Carter – who was then inspector of the Theban necropolis – reports that he went there to see this tomb that ” the Omdeh of Qournah “indicated to him. If it has already been looted, he nevertheless notes that: “The reliefs are of remarkable work and as for Tiy, I do not remember having seen a better portrait of it!”

In his report, he also publishes the full relief, representing the queen, who was sitting behind her husband during a ceremony.

Queen Tiyi – Limestone – New Kingdom – XVIIIth Dynasty – Reign of Amenhotep III
From the tomb of Userhat (TT 47) – Necropolis of el-Khokha – Thebes west
Sold at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, April 10-12, 1905, lot n ° 91 from the Paul Philip collection acquired by Jean Capart for the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts of Brussels
Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels – E 2157
Photo published in “Jean Capart et la reine Tiyi,” la Joconde du Cinquantenaire “
by Jean-Michel Bruffaerts

How to explain the fact that this portrait of the TT 47, was then cut out, to have only an almost square shape (height 41.9 cm – width 40.3 cm)? Then outraged, overloaded with inscriptions carried in black on the cheek, neck, torso and a shoulder, and deprived of some hieroglyphic signs, erased, levelled with the mortar?
How to explain that this relief is then found at Drouot in Paris, on April 10-12, 1905, in the catalogue of the sale of Paul Philip, a collector who had excavated the site of Heliopolis?

It is thus “curiously” presented under the n ° 91: “Fragment of a bas-relief of the Ptolemaic period in limestone and representing one of the Ptolemies. The king is wearing the headband held rigid at the back by the goddess of victory in the form of a bird of prey and at the front by the two uraei. Above this first headdress is placed the shouti crown (crown of the double feather) truncated, and adorned at the base uraei. A cloth also encloses all the hair. The hand holds the heraldic lotus. A demotic, almost indecipherable inscription has been traced with kalam on the face, neck, chest and arm “.

It will be acquired for a modest sum (180 F) by Jean Capart, deputy curator of the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts of Brussels, who is then responsible for building a rich and representative collection of Egyptian antiquities.

How can we believe that Jean Capart did not immediately recognize a typical piece of the art of Amenhotep III? And that, according to Jean-Michel Bruffaerts: “It is the French Egyptologist Georges Daressy, assistant curator at the Cairo Museum, who was the first to suggest that this relief could date, not from the Ptolemaic period as claimed by the Catalog Philip, but well of the XVIIIe dynasty (New Kingdom) “?

Thus, two years will pass before Jean Capart realizes the true “origin” of his acquisition: it was indeed part of the relief photographed by Carter in the TT 47!

Queen Tiyi – Limestone – New Kingdom – XVIIIth Dynasty – Reign of Amenhotep III
From the tomb of Userhat (TT 47) – Necropolis of el-Khokha – Thebes west
Sold at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris, April 10-12, 1905, lot n ° 91 from the Paul Philip collection acquired by Jean Capart for the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts of Brussels
Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels – E 2157
Photo published in “Jean Capart et la reine Tiyi,” la Joconde du Cinquantenaire “
by Jean-Michel Bruffaerts

Looking at it from then on with a new eye, with increased attention, he will decide to clean it, to remove the ‘filthy’ black inscriptions which deteriorated its purity …

The relief will be restored with care, the queen will regain her lost “status” for some time and will become the “star” of the Egyptian collection of the Brussels museum.

Why not end with the words of Jean Capart: “The fragment of relief of Queen Tiyi cannot fail to strike our visitors. It will show them, several centuries before the first gropings of Greek art, an ideal of beauty and learned processes to translate it, which all those who claim to judge in an impartial manner the artistic evolution of humanity no longer have the right to ignore any more “.

Marie Grillot http://Marie Grillot

Sources :

Capart J., 1904, New acquisitions. Egyptian section. Antiquities of the Thinite Period, Bulletin of the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts
Capart J., 1908, A portrait of queen Tiyi, in: Bulletin of the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts
Carter H., 1903, Report of Work done in Upper Egypt (1902-1903), in Annals of the Antiquities Service of Egypt 4, p. 177-178, pl. II.
TOPOGRAPHICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY OF ANCIENT EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHIC TEXTS, RELIEFS, AND P AINTINGS I. THE THEBAN NECROPOLIS PART 1. PRIVATE TOMBS, BY THE LATE BERTHA PORTER AND ROSALIND L. B. MOSS, B.Sc. (OxoN.), F.S.A. Assisted by ETHEL W. BURNEY
SECOND EDITION REVISED AND AUGMENTED – OXFORD AT THE CLARENDON PRESS © Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1960 Revised edition first published 1960 by the Oxford University Press Re-issued by the Griffith Institute 1970
http://www.griffith.ox.ac.uk/topbib/pdf/pm1-1.pdf
Catalog of an Exhibition of Ancient Egyptian Art, London, 1922 – p. 63
https://archive.org/details/catalogueofexhib00burlrich
http://www.kmkg-mrah.be/fr/éggypt
Pierre GILBERT, Ancient Mediterranean and Humanism in Art, L’art Témoin 2, Editions Desoer, Liège, 1967
Jean Capart and Queen Tiyi, “the Mona Lisa of the Cinquantenaire”, Jean-Michel Bruffaerts
BULLETIN of the ROYAL MUSEUMS OF ART AND HISTORY PARC DU CINQUANTENAIRE BRUSSELS van de KONINKLIjKE MUSEA VOOR KUNST EN GESCHIEDENIS JUBELPARK BRUSSEL, TOME / DEEL 80, 2009
https://jeancapart.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/TAP-2009-Jean-
Woman in the time of the pharaohs – Six works of art from the Egyptian collection of the Royal Museums of Art and History – RMAH November 30, 1985 – February 27, 1986
Amenophis III, the sun pharaoh, RMM, 1993 (Arielle Kozloff)
The Reign of the Sun Akhnaton and Nefertiti
Exhibition organized by the Ministries of Culture at the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels – January 17 – March 16, 1975 (Pierre Gilbert)

When Queen Tiyi was presented as “a Ptolemaic king” …

14 thoughts on “When Queen Tiyi was presented as “a Ptolemaic king” …

  1. “We must know that we don’t know first…” and through reflection, re-examination, we might finally arrive at the truth. You know, LM, it’s amazing just how many things I thought I knew… about history in particular, that I had to un-know, unlearn. What a beautiful piece of art. And thanks for your insightful interpretation.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    She is exquisite. After working with Hindu goddesses for a few years, my mythology group has returned to Egypt with a focus on Isis and Osiris. In the past when we could travel, we visited the Egyptian collections in a few New York City museums. This piece is exceptional. I’m inspired by the beauty and what you’ve shared about its origins. I’m grateful for this post. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

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