Akg Berlin/Photo Researchers

Famous as it is, Nefertity’s portrait head is seldom seen in the original. Few of us know the glowing beauty and subtle shading bestowed on it by its sculptor more than 3,000 years ago. On the cover, we show you the original stone model covered in painted plaster, as it is seen today in the Agyptische Abteilung Staatlichen Museum in Berlin. Fine tendons protrude from Nefertity’s slender neck. We wonder, does a pulse beat beneath the luminous skin?

Numerous copies of Nefertity exist. The best were cast from a copy made in the early 1920s by German sculptress Tina Haim. Unable to take a plaster mold from the delicate bust, Haim created an exact replica by using calipers to measure every dimension. When she made her copy she completed Nefertity’s left eye to match her right one. Apparently, the Egyptian artist preparing the sculpture to be copied in his workshop decided that one elaborate eye with mica inlaid pupil was sufficient to show his craftsmen what they should do on both eyes. So only Nefertity’s right eye was finished, and that is what we see so clearly on the cover of this issue.