Tomb Relief (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

2475-2195 BC
limestone, pigments
Unframed: 19 7/16 × 55 3/4 in. (49.371 × 141.605 cm)
Framed: 22 3/8 × 58 1/2 in. (56.833 × 148.59 cm)

The large figure is a nobleman who gives orders to three servants carrying papyrus scrolls while a fourth servant removes a necklace of gold beads from a box. (The scene follows the conventions of Egyptian art in which the most important figures, whether gods or humans, are depicted as larger than less important ones, such as servants.) This relief is probably from the tomb of a man named Methethy in the cemetery at Saqqara.

The stone was carved in raised relief, a technique in which the sculptor carves away the background from the figures so that the figures project. Raised relief was most commonly used inside buildings; like most Egyptian sculpture, raised reliefs were brightly painted.


Dynasties 5-6
Old Kingdom Period
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Barriault, Anne B., and Kay M. Davidson. Selections from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007. (pp. 90-91, ill. p. 91)

"Hey, our Bes is Better." Richmond Times Dispatch, May 23, 1999.

Mayo, Margaret Ellen, and Heather S. Russell. Ancient Art: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1998. (pp. 10-11)

Ancient Art in the Virginia Museum, VMFA, 1973, pp. 20, illus.

Arts in Virginia (AIV), Vo. 9, no. 2, Winter 1969.

Orientalia, Vol 37, Fasc. 3, 1968, pp. 339-341, pl. LXI.

Bothmer, Bernard V. "Living Gifts from the World of the Dead." AIV, vol. 3, no. 1, 1962, p. 25, fig. 3.

The Art Quarterly, Detroit Institute of Arts, Autumn 1955, Vol. 18, no. 3. p. 301.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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