Statue of Akhenaten Kissing his Daughter
This unfinished limestone statue of King Akhenaten kissing his daughter is of high artistic quality. It was discovered in a sculptor’s atelier, or workshop, at Tell el-Amarna.
It depicts King Akhenaten supporting on his knee one of his daughters, probably Meritaten. He sits on a stool wearing a short-sleeved tunic and the Blue Khepresh Crown of ceremonies. The girl turns her head affectionately toward her father who is kissing her.
It is an intimate depiction of life at the palace and shows the humanity of the king who described himself as “the one living in justice.” He intended to be portrayed in a human manner and at a sincerely affectionate moment between father and child.
“His religious cult was unorthodox, as was his preferred mode of artistic representation. In Akhenaten’s new cult, the royal couple worshipped the sun directly and in turn bestowed its beneficence on man. Since art served the king, representations of the royal family proliferated…
Intimate contact and kissing were almost never represented in ancient Egypt, either in private tombs, or royal scenes. However, Akhenaten and Nefertiti were shown kissing in scenes carved on stelae at el-Amarna, suggesting that they were publicly affectionate, and that they approved of this image… [The] orthodox priests of the proscribed deities must have viewed such scenes with disdain, and as a symbol of royal excess.”
― Egyptian Art, by Eleni Vassilika
New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1353-1336 BC. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 44866