This depiction of Akhenaten and Nefertiti is one of the most iconic findings from Thutmoses' (also known as Thutmose or Thutmosis) royal sculpting studio. The Egyptian piece is known as the 'Walk In The Garden' dated back to c. 1330 BCE and then re-discovered by German archaeologists in Amarna, Egypt in December 6, 1912. The purpose of the piece was to show the Egyptian peoples that Akhenaten held family values closer than ruling over them as Pharaoh, also, these pieces of 'Amarna Art' would long outlast Akhenaten's rule which distinguished Egyptian art for generations to come. The limestone painted piece is now located in the Neues Museum in Berlin, Germany.
This limestone piece like many others in the period was made by Thutmoses, Akhenaten's assumed personally appointed sculptor who had his own studio in the city. Thutmoses was also credited for his work on the bust of Nefertiti. This piece was made slightly different however. Thutmoses used stone, copper chisels, and thin blades to carve into the limestone which when finished was polished with a smooth rubbing stone. This was one of the first few art pieces of the New Kingdom that was a 'sunken relief' and where the artistic style developed. A sunken relief is when the figures are cut inside their outlines, leaving the background at a higher level. After the smoothing, the piece was painted through mineral pigments ground up and mixed with a plant or an animal based glue to attach to the stone. The most common pigments were white (gypsum) , blue (azurite), red (ochre), yellow (ochre) and black (soot). The stone was found in December of 1912 by German archaeologists and relocated to the Neues Museum in Berlin, Germany with many other artifacts discovered in Amarna.
Local Historical ContextEdit
The Walk In The Garden was created by Thutmoses, a master sculptor believed to be appointed by Akhenaten and seemed to be compensated with a royal studio to work in. A Walk In The Garden was apart of the Amarna Art Period as the New Kingdom and the 18th Dynasty. Akhenaten came to power when he founded the city Amarna he changed religious views for the first time to a monotheistic society. In order to do this, Akhenaten developed a single sun god, Aten. Aten could only be contacted through Akhenaten, this reduced the need for priests. Eventually between his sixth and ninth year monotheism was in full effect. The people in the social hierarchy would pray for Akhenaten and his family. The social hierarchy also held most of its volume in slaves and farmers due to its great location on the Nile River. Thutmoses however, had a middle-lower tier job as an artisan, but evidence of owning his own royal studio suggests that he was very close to the royal family. Evidence also points to this coming per-request of Nefertiti and Akhenaten (the bust, and this portrayal of them in the royal garden) because then the Walk In The Garden would be a positive influence on the public of his reputation for taking time to spend with his wife. He established this support with masterful manipulation of this religion [see Mieroop, 2011 sec. 8.5].
Soon after his death, the monotheistic views faded and the old gods returned to the area. However, the Amarna Art lasted many years longer. The Amarna Art evolved Egyptian culture and other cultures that ran up along the Nile River through the Red Sea. Amarna Art did this through a general difference of depicting the king in a better manner than that of others that were drawn. Royals had a greater sense of intimacy with the art and developed a general looseness and freedom of expression for the art.
This object's significance on world history on a grander scale when development of relief artwork began to spread (as well as other Egyptian resources) when they were conquered by the Hyksos for a century (c. 1640 BCE - 1550 BCE). The trade networks traveled south through the Red Sea to modern-day Ethiopia because of the mastery of their naval forces and horse chariots. A later society known as the Kushites would emerge later with the same relief carvings as the Egyptians. Thutmoses technologically innovated sculpting with the sunken relief by depicting figures with different features when Akhenaten came into power c. 1353 BCE. Figures were drawn more realistically rather than idealistically. Common differences that were adapted to other cultures (as well as thriving throughout Egyptian culture) were the elongated neck, prominent chin, large ears, large lips, sloped forehead, sloped nose, and thin, lanky limbs and torso [see Najovits, 2003 pg.166]. The picture depicted was a demonstration of Akhenaton to attempt to change not only local religious beliefs, but to shift perspective in priority of importance to family and spouses in order to send children to learn a trade.
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