About This Artwork


Head of an Official, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 13 (1773–1650 BC)

33.8 x 46.3 x 26 cm (13 3/4 x 18 1/4 x 10 1/4 in.)

Museum Purchase Fund, 1920.261

The official who commissioned this likeness could afford to outfit his tomb handsomely. The head is part of a statue, now lost, that substituted for the man in his tomb. Standing ina chapel, the statue could receive donations from mourners. His beautifully carved face records no particular expression or any distinctive features. Instead, the bulk of the stone itself exudes firm, dependable, and lasting strength.

— Exhibition label, When the Greeks Ruled: Egypt After Alexander the Great, October 31, 2013–July 27, 2014, Gallery 154.

This head from a life-sized statue was probably produced for the tomb of a local government official. In the tomb, the statue symbolically partook of offerings that were left for his soul. Stone images of the deceased also functioned as links between the dead and the living: they were tangible reminders of the physical form of the deceased.

—Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 154, April 20, 1994 - February 6, 2012.

The Art Institute of Chicago, When the Greeks Ruled: Egypt After Alexander the Great, October 31, 2013 - July 27, 2014.

Publication History

Karen B. Alexander, "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 28.

Emily Teeter, Ancient Art at The Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago Museum
Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1 (1994), pp. 20 (ill.), 21.

Thomas George Allen, A Handbook of The Egyptian Collection (Art Institute of
Chicago/University of Chicago Press, 1923), p. 51 (ill.).

View mobile website