Two Daughters of Akhenaten
The bas-relief, or carved panel, in limestone shows two sisters embracing. They are princesses from the family of Akhenaten, the 18th pharaonic dynasty in ancient Egypt, dated to 1349–1336 BCE. This artistic style belongs to the Amarna period, which is unusual because of the affection and intimate portrayal of the sisters. Unlike the more formalistic or highly symbolic style of portraying royalty typical of other periods, this image shows the older and younger daughter of the king in close contact, touching each other tenderly. Depiction of the girls in an informal pose and the older girl's torso facing the viewer are other unusual features. The older sister has her arm draped around her younger sister's shoulder, while the little girl holds her sister's elbow and looks up at her.
Associate Curator Diana Craig Patch notes that the stone block on which the relief was carved is another feature of Akhenaten's reign. His new emphasis on Aten as the chief deity led Akhenaten to build temples at a rapid pace to honor the god. He ordered architects to use smaller blocks than those found in most Egyptian monuments, because they could be carried by one person alone, speeding up the building process. This limestone block is approximately 8 3/4 in. (21.2 cm) high and 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm) wide. Akenaten's successors, in an effort to erase his innovations, demolished the temples and used the blocks for other projects. This carving was used as fill at another temple site near Amarna, and was recovered by archaeologists in the 20th century.
"Two Princesses [Egyptian] (1985.328.6)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (October 2008) (Accessed January 6, 2010). Annotated by Susan Douglass.