The sculpture of the Middle Kingdom is often described as a new attempt at realism. The early work of this period directly imitates Old Kingdom examples in an attempt to restore old traditions, but the sculpture of the 12th Dynasty exhibits a fresh interest in reality. Portraits of rulers such as Amenemhet III and Sesostris III are clearly different from those of Old Kingdom rulers.
In the 12th Dynasty images of the king are not idealized to the point of being godlike. The care and concern of high office are clearly mirrored in the face. The bone structure is indicated beneath taut surfaces, producing a type of serious realism not encountered before in Egyptian art. Statues of private persons at all times tended to imitate the royal style; thus it is natural that portraits of the nobility in the 12th Dynasty show this same realism.
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