Fragment of a False-Door Stele
Old Kingdom - 5th-4th Dynasty (circa 2500-2170 BC)
H. 35 cm ; W. 72 cm ; D. 9.8 cm
Acquired by Rodin between 1893 and 1913.
In the days of the Old Kingdom, the false-door stele – a reproduction of the door to an Egyptian house – in a private tomb symbolized the passage between the earthly world and the afterlife. Offerings were placed in front of it.
In the central panel here, the seated figure of the deceased is carved in bas-relief, wearing a long striated wig, her hand stretched towards a small table laden with bread. The woman is about to eat a meal forever engraved in stone. Above her and on the lintel, lines of hieroglyphs list the offerings of meat, incense, cosmetics and vases. The delicately carved bas-relief has lost all of its painted decoration.
The use of the canon of proportion within an 18-square grid confers a geometric appearance on the female figure and limits the angle from which her body is seen to profile and front views.