Painted Limestone Sphinx of Hatshepsut

Artefact Details

Gallery number: 11 – Ground Floor

Period: New Kingdom

Dynasty: 18th Dynasty (ca. 1550–1295 BC)

Place of discovery: Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut Deir el-Bahri Thebes, MMA (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) in 1928

Size: Height: 62 cm, width: 33 cm, Depth: 108cm

Material: Painted Limestone

The body of this sphinx of Hatshepsut, as pharaoh, is rendered in typical style with the front legs extending forward and the tail curling around the right rear leg. The style of the head, however, pays homage to characteristics of those of the late 12th dynasty, effecting a more leonine quality by replacing the usual nemes crown with a thick, stylized mane. The neatly-arranged fur covers her head, meeting the forehead with a broad band. The mane also frames her face ending at the long false beard and extends down the from the legs to the “elbows”. Her face reflects the typical elements of her portraits: delicate and feminine, with large “half-moon” eyes and high, arched brows, both of which extend in a long cosmetic line. The nose (broken) is slim and the mouth small with a hint of a prim smile. The ingenuous character of the face stands in stark contrast with the power exuded by the leonine aspects of the sculpture. A line of inscription extending from just below the beard to the base between the paws reads: “Maatkare [her coronation name], beloved of Amun, endowed with life forever.” Traces of the blue and yellow paint can be seen. This sphinx, the embodiment of the power and might of the pharaoh, is thought to have been placed at the ramp between the lower and middle terraces at her temple at Deir el-Bahri.