At Large  August 5, 2017

Limestone Relief with Hieroglyphs of Pharoah Akhenaten Leads Bonhams Antiquities Sale

An Egyptian limestone talatat relief fragment, circa 1351-1334B.C., leads Bonhams Antiquities Sale, 6 July at Bonhams New Bond Street. Carved in sunken relief with royal cartouches naming Pharaoh Akhenaten and his wife Queen Nefertiti, the piece is estimated at £60,000-90,000.

Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti are the most famous royal couple in Ancient Egyptian history. Akhenaten is noted for his attempts to replace the traditional polytheism with a new monotheism, centered around the worship of Aten, the deified sun disk. Nefertiti, while known for her exceptional beauty, was also the first royal consort to enjoy equal status with her husband. Their reign marked an important cultural epoch in Ancient Egypt. The pair established Amarna art, a new style of pictorial art characterized by a sense of movement and activity.

The talatat-stone format was an innovation introduced by Akhenaten, probably to speed his construction works. It was a standardized stone measuring 52 by 26 by 24 centimeters, small enough for a single worker to carry. Originally, the stones were made for the temples of Tell el-Amarna and later re-used as construction material in buildings during the reign of Ramesses II.

Bonhams Head of Antiquities, Francesca Hickin said, "The reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten and his beloved Queen Nefertiti is one of the best known eras of Ancient Egyptian history and objects from that period hold endless fascination for collectors. This intriguing stone relief has a direct connection to the royal couple reflecting the ideas introduced by Akhenaten by promoting his new name, which included the name of the new god Aten, together with a reference to his queen Nefertiti."

Other highlights include:

  • A life-sized Roman marble male portrait bust, from a private American collection, is estimated at £50,000-80,000.
  • An Egyptian granite head of a priest, Late Period, late 26th Dynasty, circa 610-525 B.C. is estimated at £60,000-80,000.
  • A Roman marble head of the youthful god, Apollo, with a laurel wreath in his luxurious wavy hair, is estimated at £50,000-70,000.