Two Halves make a Whole

The Memorial Art Gallery’s bust of an unknown Egyptian king of the Old Kingdom was unidentified until Bernard Bothmer (pictured), a prominent Egyptologist, realized that the Gallery’s sculpture matched the lower part of a statue in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. On the base of the Cairo portion, in front of the right foot, is a cartouche naming King Ny-user-ra, who ruled from 2390 to 2360 BCE.  This is one of only two known portraits inscribed with Ny-user-ra’s name.

In 1972, plaster casts were made of both fragments and exchanged; now MAG’s bust has a replica lower body, while the fragment in the Cairo Museum has a replica upper body.