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HOME : Egyptian Antiquities : Masterpieces of Egyptian Art : Portrait of an Elite Official
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Portrait of an Elite Official - LO.615
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 2494 BC to 2300 BC
Dimensions: 14.0" (35.6cm) high x 12.2" (31.0cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian
Medium: Limestone

Additional Information: K

Location: Great Britain
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This panel, painted on limestone, exhibits a very unusual gray background which is limited to a select number of tombs decorated during the last two dynasties of the Old Kingdom. The preserved vignette depicts the bust of an elite, male official facing right. His hair is closely cropped and his accessories include a broad collar on his naked chest. In keeping with ancient Egyptian color conventions, which are gender specific, his body is painted in a rich red color to indicate that his field of activity is outdoors. A hand, gently placed on his shoulder, of which the fingers and thumb are clearly visible, is painted in yellow, the color reserved for women who were sequestered within the confines of home and palace. The color and placement of that hand on this officials shoulder suggests that it belongs to his wife. One can then suggest that this scene, doubtless from a tomb, depicted this anonymous official together with his wife in a loving pose, perhaps seated, before what can be reconstructed as funerary offerings.


For contemporary depictions on offering bearers on a gray background, see the suite of late Dynasty VI vignettes, painted on Nile mud, in the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, Guide to the Collections (Jerusalem 1992), page 54.

- (LO.615)


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