The Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshesput

The Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshesput

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The large kneeling statue of Hatshepsut (~1470 BCE), (Figure 3-21 [pg. 70] in “Art Through the Ages”) depicts the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, seated on her knees with a jar in each hand.
Carved in Red Granite and measuring at 8' 6'' tall, the statue begins at the base with a large block with a rounded facade. Hatshepsut rests on her knees atop the block, her posture is perfect with a completely vertical back. She is facing straight ahead, the typical headdress and beard of the pharaoh are shown prominently. Her arms are lowered, bringing her wrists to rest on the top-most part of her thighs. In each hand she holds an offering jar. The whole piece is carved out of the one block of stone in a subtractive manner—meaning the stone is chipped away at.
It is in the style of many sculptures of the pharaohs of the Egyptian New Kingdom, with simple idealized beauty instead of accurate depiction.
The Metropolitan Museum's website entry for this piece gives insight into its purpose with a translation of the inscription:

“According to the inscription on the base, "Maatkare" (Hatshepsut) is represented here as "the one who gives Maat to Amun." Maat was the goddess of order, right balance, and justice, and for a king to offer an image of Maat to another deity meant reaffirming that this was the guiding principle of his/her rule.”

A key focus of the piece is the jars. Two round jars held in each hand. As well, the ceremonial headdress and beard catch the eye quickly too. If detail was still as pronounced as it was during the peak time period of the statues creation, there would probably be more to the detail on the headdress and face, as well as the skirt. On the side of the headdress, and along the length of the leg are lines traveling the length of the subject. They appear more pronounced on the legs (skirt).
Though not incredibly realistic, there are aspects and elements that hold some verisimilitude. For example the toes on the feet are bent similar to how someones toes would actually bend if they were kneeling down. It uses a normal perspective, unlike contemporaneous figural paintings, and the proportions appear to be based on something natural, though not quite perfect. The feet, especially the bent toes are larger than they would naturally be (perhaps the artists increased the size of the toes to help exaggerate the effect of them bending up when Hatshepsut is kneeling).

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The hands have a similar lack of realism, appearing much larger than they would naturally. Again, this is presumably done to serve a practical purpose—the fingers need to be longer in order to fully wrap around the jars properly (it might also be worth noting that there doesn't appear to be any actual knuckles on the hand, the fingers simply curve around the round surface of the jar. Another physical element that can be noted is the removal of the breasts on what is supposed to depict a female. This is not uncommon. Instead of carving rounded, feminine breasts, the artists gave the figure flatter, more masculine pectorals.
As already mentioned the piece is carved out of a larger granite slab, all one piece, with the center area—under the legs, the thighs—as well as up the course of the spine are left uncut. This was probably done, logically, for support, so that the three sections—bottom slab, midsection, and top—are all connected by one central support.
As for meaning, I think it is very simple: The pharaoh, while also being idealized, is presenting offerings to a deity.

Works Cited

Kleiner, Fred, S.. “Art Through The Ages”. Cengage Learning, Wadsworth. 2013. Print.

Metropolitan Museum Of Art. "Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshepsut". Web. Used: 2013.

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