Ancient Egyptian King made of anorthosite gneiss. Original work: ca. 1872-1806 BC ; Reworking: ca. 1250 BC (Middle Kingdom; New Kingdom).
Both continuity and change are reflected in this portrait bust initially carved for a ruler of the Middle Kingdom and then re-carved for a New Kingdom monarch. There was a marked change between the way late 12th Dynasty and mid 19th Dynasty kings were represented. The pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty wished to present an experienced and careworn expression. This is conveyed by heavy eyelids, wrinkles, and a firm set to the mouth.
The pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty, however, wanted their images to suggest youth, vigor, and confidence. To transform a Middle Kingdom royal image into a New Kingdom one, sculptors re-carved the face. The eyes, nose, and forehead of this sculpture show evidence of reworking to erase signs of age, while the corners of the mouth were deeply drilled to make the cheeks appear rounder and to bring the lips closer to the slight smile typical of 19th Dynasty royal sculpture.