For other persons named Thutmose (Thutmosis, Djhutmose) see Thutmose (disambiguation).
"The King's Favourite and Master of Works, the Sculptor Thutmose" (also spelled Djhutmose and Thutmosis), flourished 1350 BC, is thought to have been the official court sculptor of the EgyptianPharaohAkhenaten in the latter part of his reign. A German archaeological expedition digging in Akhenaten's deserted city of Akhetaton, at Amarna, found a ruined house and studio complex (labeled P47.1-3) in early December 1912; the building was identified as that of Thutmose based on an ivory horse blinker found in a rubbish pit in the courtyard inscribed with his name and job title. Since it gave his occupation as "sculptor" and the building was clearly a sculpture workshop, it seemed a logical connection.
Among many other sculptural items recovered at the same time was the polychromebust ofNefertiti, apparently a master study for others to copy, which was found on the floor of a storeroom. In addition to this now-famous bust twenty-two plaster casts of faces—some of which are full heads, others just the face—were found in Rooms 18/19 of the studio, with an additional one found in Room 14. Eight of these have been identified as various members of the royal family including Akhenaten, his other wife Kiya, his late father Amenhotep III, and his eventual successor Ay. The rest represent unknown individuals, presumably contemporary residents of Amarna.
A couple of the pieces found in the workshop depict images of older noblewomen which is rare in Ancient Egyptian art, which more often portrayed women in an idealized manner as always young, slender and beautiful. One of the plaster faces depicts an older woman, with wrinkles at the corner of her eyes and bags under them, and a deeply lined forehead. This piece has been described as showing "a greater variety of wrinkles than any other depiction of an elite woman from ancient Egypt" It is thought to represent the image of a wise, older woman. A small statue of an aging Nefertiti was also found in the workshop, depicting her with a rounded, drooping belly and thick thighs and a curved line at the base of her abdomen showing that she had borne several children, perhaps to project an image of fertility.
Examples of his work recovered from his abandoned studio can be viewed at the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin, the Cairo Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
Gallery of images
Plaster face of an older Amarna-era woman, from late in Akhenaten's reign, years 14-17, from the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose. On display at the Ägyptisches Museum.
Plaster face of a young Amarna-era woman, (thought by many to represent Kiya, one of Akhenaten's wives), from late in Akhenaten's reign, years 14-17, from the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose. On display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
Portrait study thought to represent Kiya, a secondary wife to the pharaoh Akhenaten. Originally discovered within the workshop of the royal sculptor Thutmose at Amarna, now part of the Ägyptisches Museum collection in Berlin.
Portrait study thought to represent Amenhotep III, the father of the pharaoh Akhenaten. Originally discovered within the workshop of the royal sculptor Thutmose at Amarna, now part of the Ägyptisches Museum collection in Berlin.
Plaster portrait study thought to represent the later successor pharaoh Ay, part of the Ägyptisches Museum collection in Berlin.
Statuette of Queen Nefertiti rendered in limestone from the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose. On display at the Ägyptisches Museum in Berlin .
Plaster portrait study thought to represent Queen Nefertiti, primary wife of the pharaoh Akhenaten. Originally discovered within the workshop of the royal sculptor Thutmose at Amarna, now part of the Ägyptisches Museum collection in Berlin.
Granite statue of the head of Queen Nefertiti, from the workshop of the sculptor Thutmose. On display at the Ägyptisches Museum.
Further information: Tomb of Thutmose
In 1996 the French Egyptologist Alain Zivie discovered at Saqqara the decorated rock cut tomb of the "head of the painters in the place of truth", Thutmose. The tomb dates to the time shortly after the Amarna Period. Although the title of the Thutmose in Saqqara is slightly different from the title of the Thutmose known from Amarna, it seems likely that they refer to the same person and that the different titles represent different stages in his career.
- Dodson, Aidan (2009). Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian Counter-Reformation. The American University in Cairo Press. ISBN 978-977-416-304-3.
- Krauss, Rolf (2008). "Why Nefertiti Went to Berlin". KMT. 19 (3): 44–53.
- Tyldesley, Joyce (2006). Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05145-3.
- Sweeney, Deborah (2004). "Forever Young? The Representation of Older and Ageing Women in Ancient Egyptian Art". Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. American Research Center in Egypt. 41: 67–84. doi:10.2307/20297188.
- Cyril Aldred, Akhenaten: King of Egypt (Thames and Hudson, 1988), pp. 59.
- Rita E. Freed, Yvonne J. Markowitz, Sue H. D'Auria, Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten - Nefertiti - Tutankhamen (Museum of Fine Arts, 1999), pp. 123–126.
When leaving his workshop in Amarna, the sculptor Thutmose may have wanted to forget something very painful. A story which may have been carved in his heart perhaps? He decided not to take some of his sculptures with him, and left them instead in an abandoned city. Even the bust of the most beautiful woman of his times remained on the wooden shelf.
Discovery and Lies
That bust was discovered in 1912 by a German archaeological team led by Ludwig Borchardt of the German Oriental Company. During the exploration of several parts of Amarna they discovered the workshop of the sculptor. According to Borchardt, the famous bust stood on the shelf for years, maybe even centuries, before it became so corroded that the sculpture fell down on the sand brought into the damaged house by the wind. It stayed like this until December 6, 1912 when the beautiful bust was found by archaeologists.
Portrait of Ludwig Borchardt. ( Public Domain )
When the group of researchers saw the incredibly beautiful face of the woman, they were speechless. Immediately they knew that this artifact would be one of the most famous ancient Egyptian treasures in the world. Thus, German Oriental Company began their attempts to receive an agreement to bring the bust to Germany.
They didn't want to show the Egyptians how beautiful the sculpture they discovered was, so the Germans brought them an official photograph of the bust instead - one which didn't portray its beauty quite so much. During the inspection by Gustave Lefebre, whose opinion was very important for the final decision about sharing the artifact unearthed during the excavations, the bust was left wrapped in a box.
It should be noted that at the beginning of the 20th century the practice of sharing an artifact between Egypt and the country that completed the archaeological mission and found the item was completely normal. But Borchradt knew that if the Egyptians found out the truth of the wonderful artifact he chanced upon, they would never allow him to take it to Germany. His trick paid off so well for his country that nowadays the famous bust of one of the most beautiful ancient woman is still at a museum in Berlin.
Portrait study thought to represent Amenhotep III, the father of the pharaoh Akhenaten. Originally discovered within the workshop of the royal sculptor Thutmose at Amarna, now part of the Ägyptisches Museum collection in Berlin. (CC BY-SA 2.5 )
The Artist Behind the Legendary Beauty
His full title was "The King's Favorite and Master of Works, the Sculptor Thutmose", and he was the creator of the most famous sculptures of the Amarna Period. The impressively advanced work of the artist surprised future researchers with his skills. The unusual style he had compared to other ancient Egyptian artists was also a surprise. What Thutmose created was nothing like the rest of the art in the region. His workshop was located in the southern part of Amarna, between other workshops which created items for temples and palaces in the city.
There are a few other artists of this period whose names are known like: Bak, son of Men, or Juti, who was the sculptor for Queen Tiye. However, Thutmose was not only an artist, but an influential official on the court of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. His workshop was more like a factory. It produced an impressive number of artifacts, especially busts of the pharaoh’s family. During excavations, the house of Thutmose and his family was uncovered. It was located next to the workshop.
The Great Royal Wife Tiye, matriarch of the Amarna Dynasty - now in the Neues Museum/Ägyptisches Museum in Berlin, Germany. ( Public Domain )
It seems that when he was leaving Amarna, Thutmose took everything that had a special meaning for him. But he decided to leave some old sculptures. He may have been aware that after the collapse of Amarna, the old trends in art would be rekindled and there was no place for the statues of the unique style of his workshop. The pieces he made were very natural and seemed to be created like real portraits of the people he wanted to portray.
It is possible that the royal family posed for these sculptures. Apart from the bust of Nefertiti, archaeologists discovered a collection of realistic masks, which seemed to be very important in the process of making the sculptures. In Thutmose's workshop, 22 cast heads were found. They could be sort of a ''library of patterns'' for artists. Some of them were identified as Akhenaten, Kiya, Amenhotep III, Ay, and some of the pharaohs’ daughters.