AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE GROUP STATUE OF KA-NEFER AND HIS FAMILY
PROPERTY FROM AN AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE GROUP STATUE OF KA-NEFER AND HIS FAMILY

OLD KINGDOM, DYNASTY V, 2465-2323 B.C.

Details
AN EGYPTIAN LIMESTONE GROUP STATUE OF KA-NEFER AND HIS FAMILY
OLD KINGDOM, DYNASTY V, 2465-2323 B.C.
With the tomb owner Ka-nefer seated on a high bench with his back against a support rising to the height of his shoulders, his legs parallel, his arms at his sides, his left hand resting on his thigh, palm down, the right hand grasping a cylindrical object, depicted wearing a kilt with a fan-pleated flap and knotted belt, the lip of cloth pulled up from behind the belt also pleated, his broad collar preserving traces of original black and red pigment, some details gilt, his black wig flaring back exposing the earlobes, with a meticulously-crafted, striated center-parted wig, his oval face with distinctive physiognomy, including large convex eyes, the details painted, the upper lids sculpted in relief beneath slightly-arching subtly-modelled brows, his nose rounded and his full lips pursed into a slight smile, the musculature of his torso and legs well defined, the navel with a vertical groove above, a hieroglyphic inscription on his kilt and by his feet reading, "Overseer of the Craftsmen, Priest of Ptah, Ka-nefer," his wife represented in smaller scale to the right, kneeling with her legs folded to her right, her right arm affectionately embracing Ka-nefer's leg, her left arm at her side, the hand on her thigh, palm down, wearing a long tightly-fitted gown, bracelets, a painted broad collar and a flaring wig similar to her husband's, an inscription on the base before her reading, "His wife, the Royal Confidant, Tjen-tety," their son also represented in smaller scale to the left, standing with his left leg advanced, his left arm affectionately embracing his father's leg, wearing a short curly wig and a kilt, an inscription on the base before him reading, "His son, the Overseer of Craftsmen, Khuwy-ptah"
14 in. (35.5 cm.) high
Provenance
Général Louis André, France. (Général Louis André was born in Nuits-Saint-George in 1838. He served as war minister in the cabinet of René Waldeck-Rousseau and his successor Émile Combes. He died in Dijon in 1913).
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 10-11 July 1989, lot 129.
with Robin Symes Ltd, London, 1995.

Lot Essay

The name Ka-nefer as Overseer of Craftsmen is known from two offering tables said to be from Saqqara, one now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen (AEIN 1551) and one now in the British Museum (BM 29207) (see Porter and Moss, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs and Painters, III 2. Memphis, part 2, pp. 768-769). His son Khuwy-ptah was the owner of a mastaba at Saqqara, and several objects, probably from his tomb, bear his name, including a drum and two offering stands (see Porter and Moss, op. cit., p. 689; Murray, Saqqara Mastabas I, pl. 3, no. 3; and Borchardt, Catalogue Général des Antiquités Egyptiennes du Musée du Caire; Denkmäler des Alten Reiches I, pp. 1-2, nos. 1295 & 1297).

Family group tomb sculptures make their appearance during the Fourth Dynasty. For related groups from the Fifth Dynasty, compare the standing figure with his wife and son in the Brooklyn Museum, no. 126 in Arnold, et al., Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids, and the seated figure of Ni-ka-re with his wife and daughter, no. 130 in Arnold, op. cit. According to Cody (in Fazzini, et al., Art for Eternity, Masterworks from Ancient Egypt, Brooklyn Museum of Art), "because scale reflected relative importance in ancient Egyptian art, the father's large size signifies his dominance." The similarity of Ka-nefer's facial features with those of King Sahure and a Nome God on his gneiss statue in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Arnold, op. cit., no. 109) suggests the date for the present work.
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