This bright and eye-catching stela belonged to a man called Khety (in the centre) and his wife Henet (behind to the left). It shows them receiving offerings from their son Montuhotep (to the right). These people lived around 4000 years ago, at the beginning of the 12th Dynasty.

If you look closely at the photo you can see traces of the red gridlines the artist used to line everything up, it’s most clear at the left but you can see it elsewhere too. Using this means that the figures all have the same proportions, which unifies the composition.

Full gridlines like this were an innovation in the early Middle Kingdom – in the Old Kingdom they used horizontal rules to line up various features but didn’t elaborate the system into as fixed a canon of proportions as was done in the Middle Kingdom.

I like the details in the offerings and the way the artist has used the paint to enhance the carved shapes, like the way the skin on the leg of beef is black & white, or the way you can see feathers and the scaly legs of the goose that flops across the table.

Stela of Khety and His Wife Henet. Provenance unknown. Middle Kingdom, early Dynasty 12, c.1981-1917 BCE. Acc. No.: Kunsthistorisches Museum Ägyptisch Sammlung INV 202

It’s not known where this was found, but it is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, acc. no. 202.

See it on my photo site:

Jigsaw Puzzles:

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