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Face underneath plaster in Nefertiti's famous bust

 
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:04 pm    Post subject: Face underneath plaster in Nefertiti's famous bust Reply with quote

CT scans have been used to look underneath the plaster layers covering the famous bust of Nefertiti.
Researchers found a face with less prominent cheekbones, a bump on the nose and wrinkles.
Very Happy Now, when I first read that it made it sound like she had some plastic surgery done.

I personally still think the face underneath is still pretty, but the completed bust may depict an "airbrushed" version of the Queen.

Nat Geo has pictures and a description:
Nat Geo link
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with you, anneke. The face underneath, the "real" features of the queen, is really quite beautiful. I think it is very unfair of NatGeo to call it the "real, wrinkled face". The headline of the article implies that some horribly wrinkled, old crone is going to be shown!
As you say, the artist was more than likely flattering the queen! (and, politically, making a very smart move...)
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Montuhotep88
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating! The implication of this could be that the "real, wrinkled" face was made from a cast taken from life (similar to what's thought of other of the "masks" found in Thutmose's workshop)... which quite probably makes the piece into a working model to serve as the "official basis" for other images. This could also imply that there may orginally have been companion pieces made from the other "masks" in the workshop...

I'm imagining Thutmose conferring with Akhenaten and Nefertiti (or, far more likely, a courtier) about how to "retouch" the queen's image to form her "official" image... "Okay, gotcha, smooth the skin, lose the nose-bump, and rouge up the cheeks about a tenth... tell Their Majesties it'll be ready by the third week of the first of Shemu."

This will only add fuel to the fire of where the piece belongs, unfortunately. If I were with the Berlin Museum, I'd be taking some detailed measurements to be able to construct a quality replica at this point...
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The description reminds me a bit of the "aging Nefertiti" statue.
See for instance this page: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/nefertiti.htm

Would a layer of plaster have smoothed out those wrinkles too?

I want some of that plaster ......
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Montuhotep88 said:
This could also imply that there may orginally have been companion pieces made from the other "masks" in the workshop...

That is a very interesting observation!
The question of the purpose of the masks (erroneously called "death Masks) has long been a source of conjecture. As a "working" cast of the features of people who were destined to be carved, it makes sense.
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ELISE
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or it could be that knowing the finished bust would be covered in plaster and painted, there was no need to make a terribly detailed or precise base....
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ELISE
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS If you were applying plaster, you'd almost certainly want a slightly rough surface to get it to adhere properly (in much the same way dentists roughen teeth before applying cosmetic veneers).
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kylejustin
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i didn't notice any difference between the two scans. they look the same to me.

i do think that the ageing nefertiti looks like the bust though. they probably knocked a decade off her features for the bust. i think the wrinkled nefertiti is still strikingly beautiful though. she does appear to have been really beautiful throughout images of her lifetime.
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Neferseshat
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ELISE wrote:
PS If you were applying plaster, you'd almost certainly want a slightly rough surface to get it to adhere properly (in much the same way dentists roughen teeth before applying cosmetic veneers).


I agree the rough surface on the stone was intentional for plaster applying.

However, isn't it said that under different light sources, the bust would be looked different, too? If the light goes toward the bust face, she would look younger, but if it goes from her back (to the front), she sould have wrinkles on her face as well.
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neseret
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Osiris II wrote:
Montuhotep88 said:
This could also imply that there may orginally have been companion pieces made from the other "masks" in the workshop...

That is a very interesting observation!
The question of the purpose of the masks (erroneously called "death Masks) has long been a source of conjecture. As a "working" cast of the features of people who were destined to be carved, it makes sense.


It is most likely that the famous bust may have used a "from life" cast model for its based. Much of this research into the "real face" beneath the bust was actually done in the early 1990's, as the article noted. At that time, Dorothea Arnold noted this about this gypsum plaster model in relation to the famous bust:


Fig. 39

Among the limestone sculptures found in Thutmose's little room, a case might be made that the famous painted bust of the queen (fig. 58 ) was based on the gypsum plaster model (fig. 39). The rounded lips of the cast might have been altered to become the austere lips of the bust. There is, however, a great difference in the upper eyelids, which are remarkably short and concave in the cast, but large, heavy, and convex in the bust. In the final analysis the similarities are only what might be expected in two different images of the same person. (Arnold 1996: 49, emphasis, mine)

Here, the gypsum plaster model indicates what we already know from the "makeover" article: the neck is more scrawny, there is a "bump" on the (now damaged) nose bridge, the cheeks are not as high, and the eyes (which can be seen better when viewed frontally, which I have done) are uneven (one eye is slightly lower than the other).

Arnold theorised, in her 1996 book on women of the Amarna period, that it was the decision of the master sculptor Thutmose to "reset" the actual visage of Nefertiti within the artistic mean of the period, the artist's 18-square grid, but applied to this bust sculpture, which resulted in the grid units equalling 3/4 inch. To do so also required modification of the original image, as Arnold noted:

A function as sculptor's model to demonstrate a definitive image of the queen best explains the bust's predominant artistic properties: its careful execution, thoroughly calculated proportions and symmetries, and impeccable finish. Rolf Krauss, an Egyptologist at the Berlin Museum, has recently shown how, in typical Egyptian fashion, the shape of the bust appears to have been determined with the help of a grid that used the smallest longitudinal measure of ancient Egypt, a finger (1.875 cm; 3/4 in.), as its basic unit. Krauss drew this grid over a photogrammetric image of Nefertiti that had previously been constructed by scientists from the Berlin Technical University. Drawn over this photogrammetric image in frontal and profile views, the grid measured some major facial features (fig. 59). The chin, for instance, is located two fingers below the median line between the lips, the tip of the nose is another finger width above the median line of the mouth, the lower eyelids are two fingers above the tip of the nose, and the peaks of the eyebrows are another two fingers above the lower lids. Since in the ancient Egyptian measuring system, four fingers equaled one palm (7.5 cm; 3 in.), it can also be said that there was a distance of one palm between the tip of the nose and the peak of the eyebrows, and two palms between the chin and the edge of the crown.



Art historians have always stressed the symmetries in Nefertiti's face. Contrary to most Egyptian sculptures — for instance, the wooden head of Queen Tiye — the facial features of the bust are remarkably symmetrical. Nefertiti's chin, mouth, and nose, and the uraeus cobra are placed exactly along the vertical axis of the face. The nostrils are exactly one finger distant from each side of this median line; the outer ends of the eyebrows are three fingers from the median line; and the center of each ear is four fingers, if again the photogrammetric image is used that projects the sculptural details onto a plane. Krauss has shown that major deviations from this unusually strict adherence to symmetry appear only in areas other than the face. The left side of the crown is slightly broader than the right side, and the right shoulder is slightly wider than the left.

Dietrich Wildung's important computerized tomography studies (1992) revealed that careful balancing also occurred in the earlier stages of the creation of Nefertiti's bust. It appears that the bust's limestone core originally had a considerably longer and thinner neck, shoulders of rather uneven height, and a crown straighter in the back line and narrower from front to back. To correct these faults and achieve the final equilibrium, the sculptor used gypsum plaster to heighten and even out the shoulders. Plaster was also added to the back of the neck, and the crown. Borchardt had already suggested that certain details in the face itself were molded with the help of a thin layer of gypsum plaster. The actual amount of plaster used for the facial details is still to be determined.
(Arnold 1996: 68 )

So Nefertiti's image in the famous bust is not so much how she looked (other gypsum renderings and some sculptures indicates a far different looking woman to the bust, after all), but how to set an "ideal" image of the queen using an intricate grid system for other artists to use.

The famous bust has long been known to have been a "sculptor's model" rather than a finished object which was displayed (the lack of inset eye, for example, tells one it is not a finished bust, as all attempts to discover any glue in the eye socket or the lack of an eye inlay at time of discovery seem to strongly support this judgment).

Reference:

Arnold, D. 1996. The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art/Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Wildung, D. 1992. Einblick: Zerstörungfreie Unterschungen an altägyptischen Objekten. Jahrbuch Preussischer Kulturbesitz 29: 133-156.

For more information on the Egyptian artistic grid system, see:

Davis, W. 1989. The Canonical Tradition in Ancient Egyptian Art. Cambridge New Art History and Criticism. N. Bryson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Groenewegen-Frankfort, H. A. 1987 (1951). Arrest and Movement: An Essay on Space and Time in the Art of the Ancient Near East. Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard University Press.

Iversen, E. 1955. Canon and Proportions in Egyptian Art. London: Sidgwick and Jackson.

Robins, G. 1994. Proportion and Style in Ancient Egyptian Art. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Robins, G. 1994. Some Principles of Compositional Dominance and Gender Hierarchy in Egyptian Art. JARCE 31: 33-40.

Schäfer, H. 1986 (1974). Principles of Egyptian Art. J. Baines, transl. E. Brunner-Traut. Oxford: Griffith Institute.

HTH.
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seraulu1
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:45 am    Post subject: ''Newbie'' Reply with quote

Laughing Wink Smile ,


Hi guys,
i am newbie to these forum and i read all the comment and suggestion,that's very helpful and i have quick question only what is the difference between the two scans that's look like same to me i didn't know that have deference's Idea Idea Idea ?and by the way thanks again for the suggestion that's very helpful Very Happy Very Happy
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Toth
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:51 am    Post subject: Re: ''Newbie'' Reply with quote

seraulu1 wrote:
Laughing Wink Smile ,


Hi guys,
i am newbie to these forum and i read all the comment and suggestion,that's very helpful and i have quick question only what is the difference between the two scans that's look like same to me i didn't know that have deference's Idea Idea Idea ?and by the way thanks again for the suggestion that's very helpful Very Happy Very Happy


Hello :pharaohright

In the first place: Welcome to Egyptian Dreams!.
Reading all posts is tedious, but a very good way to get to know the regular posters and get interesting information about Ancient Egypt (AE)

The top left one is much smoother than the one in the lower left, that gives more the impression of the skin of an orange, also there are the arrows that point to the "craters of wrinkles" (exaggerating is a profession too, as we say here: overdrijven is ook een vak, but there are a few spots where could say, yes, this is not the way it should be.

However I wonder, whether this was a side effect of the sculpting process
Wink
Richard, aka
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