Statue of Horemheb and Horus

In this nearly life-size statue made of white limestone, Horemheb is seated on the right side of Horus, who places his right arm around the king’s waist. The god’s left hand is holding the sign of life. The two figures greatly resemble each other. Both have bare upper bodies and wear the short ritual kilt and the double crown. The king is also wearing the striped royal headdress and a false beard.

On first inspection, the sculpture appears to be in a perfect state of preservation, but this is deceptive. The statue has been extensively restored in modern times and several parts were added: the two outer arms and the feet of both statues, the left hand, beard, and the tip of the nose of the king, as well as the beak of the falcon.

Statue of King Horemheb and God Horus
Statue of King Horemheb and God Horus

The appeal of this work lies particularly in the contrast between the traditional rigidity of the overall modelling on the one hand and the face on the other, the style of which has been largely determined by late Amarna art. The realism with which the anatomical details have been represented and the retaining of the portraiture despite the idealizing nature of the piece are a continuation of the art of the pharaoh Akhenaten. All in all, this sculpture seems to bring us closer to the personality of the forceful statesman Horemheb more than any other of his portraits.

New Kingdom, late 18th Dynasty, reign of Horemheb, ca. 1319-1292 BC. Now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Inv. 8301