Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Walters Art museum Ancient Egypt

Mummy and Painted Cartonnage of an Unknown Woman ca. 850-750 BC (Third Intermediate)

Mummification preserved mortal remains in order to house the Ka, or life force of the individual, as it needed to return to the body to find sustenance. The human-shaped covering, called "cartonnage," is composed of layers of linen and plaster. Its painted decoration includes the floral wreath on the wig, a broad collar, and a winged scarab beetle. Five additional registers of decoration show the protective four sons of Hours, the sacred boat of the funerary-deity Sokar, a mummy of Osiris on a funerary bed, a divine falcon god, and a short hieroglyphic text with an offering formula. See the additional media for a facial reconstruction of the mummy, courtesy of Michael Brassell, as well as a color reconstruction of the cartonnage.


The Walters Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland's Mount Vernon neighborhood, is a public art museum founded in 1934. The museum's collection was amassed substantially by two men, William Thompson Walters (1819–1894), who began serious collecting when he moved to Paris at the outbreak of the American Civil War. His private collection became one of the largest and most valuable in the United States. And his son Henry Walters (1848–1931), who refined the collection and rehoused it in a palazzo building on Charles Street which opened in 1909. Upon his death, Henry Walters bequeathed the collection of over 22,000 works and the original Charles Street palazzo building to the city of Baltimore, “for the benefit of the public.” The collection touches masterworks of ancient Egypt, Greek sculpture and Roman sarcophagi, medieval ivories, illuminated manuscripts, Renaissance bronzes, Old Master and 19th-century paintings, Chinese ceramics and bronzes, and Art Deco jewelry.


Temple Relief of Nectanebo II ca. 350 BC (Late Period)

Once decorating the lower section of an interior temple wall, this relief depicts gods carrying offering trays supporting cartouches bearing the name of King Nectanebo II, and liquid and floral offerings. The deities bring the agricultural wealth of the nome, or region, they represent in a procession. The hieroglyphic texts praise the king and the god Onuris-Shu. Unlike the sunk relief used on exterior walls, interior walls were decorated with raised relief.


Fragment in Sunk Relief of Female Deity Bearing Offerings ca. 1270 BC (New Kingdom)



These two (together with Walters 22.100) well-preserved painted relief sculptures originally belonged to a depiction of a procession of gods, who represented the 42 nomes, or regions, of Egypt. They once decorated the lower part of the southeast wall of the First Hall, containing eight columns, within a temple dedicated to the god Osiris, built at Abydos by Ramesses II. The lower portion of both figures remains in place in the Ramesses temple, where they are exposed to the elements. The reliefs shown here, however, have retained their vivid color. The deities bring offerings for the cult of Osiris in Ramesses' name. Their faces follow the portrait style of Ramesses II, with oval eyes, slightly hollowed eyelids, a small mouth, and a prominent, beaked nose. Note the remains of the hieroglyph above each figure's head, indicating that he or she is the personification of a region. The raised area of these nome-signs retains red pigment. A portion of the abundant offerings the male deity bears is preserved. His blue skin associates him with the forces of creation. Original pigments also include yellow on the female deity's face, blue on her wig, and light green on the plant stalks she holds in her right hand.

Relief Displaying the King Suckled by the Hathor-Cow ca. 1300-1200 BC (New Kingdom)

A youthful king suckles at the udder of the mother-goddess Hathor, depicted as a cow. His black flesh may indicate that he is deceased, this color being associated with the underworld and the god Osiris; but the color black also symbolizes fertility, renewal, and rebirth, and its use implies that the king will be restored to life.


Mummy Mask of a Woman 50 BC-AD 50 (Greco-Roman)

Mummy masks of the Hellenistic and Roman periods often had gilded faces that reflected the association of the deceased with the gods. This mask has been molded over a core, with layers of mud and linen. The decoration was applied in layers, with the gilding at the end. The eye inlays are made from glass, as well as the blue scarab on the top of the head and the ibis inside of a pectoral on the chest. The scarab has gilded wings which stretch down to the sides of the wig. Above the forehead is a frieze of uraeus serpents with sun-disks on their heads. At the right and left frontal ends of the wig are recumbent jackals. A golden collar with five rows of rosettes and geometric patterns adorns the mask, suspended from which two kneeling goddesses flank the pectoral with an ibis. The goddesses may be identified as Isis and Nephthys, each with a sun-disk on her head and a feather-fan in one hand. Mummy masks were used to protect and idealize the facial features of the deceased. The golden face of this mask shows no signs of age, gender, or emotions. The eyebrows, nose, mouth, chin, and ears are very well modeled, but without color accents. The motif ensemble of the mask symbolizes protection (uraeus serpents, jackals), general renewal (scarab-beetle), and divine support to pass the court of death (Thoth-ibis, goddesses) and to be renewed in the afterlife amongst the deities (reflected in the golden color of the face).


Funerary Stele of Tembu ca. 1500-1470 BC (New Kingdom)

This round topped funerary stela of Tembu, is carved in very low relief and brightly painted in red, yellow, blue, and black. The decoration comprises of two registers of offering scenes and a register of inscription on the bottom. The top depicts two Wadjit eyes flanking a shen-ring and water ripples with a bowl. Below this Tembu is seated with his wife on a typical 18th-Dynasty double chair. Under the chair and attached to it by a leash, is a pet monkey, holding a mirror and a cosmetic vase, which is a typical feature of New Kingdom stelae. The table in front of the couple holds loosely arranged offerings of bread, beef, vegetables and lotus buds and two jugs on stands below the table. One of the daughters of the couple stands in front of the large wine jar decorated with a "nymphaea caerulea" and presents a bowl of wine to her parents. The middle register depicts the rest of the family, including Tembu's sons Teti, Tetimose, Teiy, and Ahmose, holding various flowers and two daughters Senetnefer and Henut, holding flowers. Three of the sons wear short military kilts in accordance with their titles, while the fourth son wears a long kilt and a shirt. Between the daughters and the sons, is placed an extremely large jar decorated with a lotus flower, and topped with a clay stopper.


Woman with Lotus ca. 2170-2020 BC (First Intermediate)

At the end of the Old Kingdom, the authority of the king and court had eroded, and Egypt split into at least two distinct regions. Without a great royal court to patronize workshops, artists and artisans worked for local governors and officials. Lively regional styles developed, usually showing elongated, fluid figures with features such as the hands, eyes, and ears emphasized. Here, the inscriptions are an invocation to Anubis, god of embalming and mummification, requesting funerary offerings of food and drink for the deceased. This stela, carved in sunk relief, depicts a woman named Nefer-khabet. She wears a long, narrow, tight-fitting garment, a long wig, a collar, an armlet and a bracelet, and anklets. Her skin is painted pale yellow, her garment is pale blue, and her various pieces of jewelry are painted a darker shade of blue. She faces to the right and holds a blue lotus blossom with her left hand in front of her face, while her right arm hangs down at her side. In front of her is a short, small table heaped with offerings (two basins and two loaves, a shoulder of meat, vegetables, and more loaves); beneath it are ewer and a basin. More offerings (two baskets with food, four pottery jars on stands, loaves, and bunches of onions) are placed to the right of this table. The offerings are painted in red, yellow, and pale green, and are surrounded on three sides (all except the bottom) by a thin black rectangular border. Three rows and one column of inscription in blue are placed above her and to her right. Surrounding the scene on three sides (except for the bottom) is a border consisting of pale green, yellow, red, and black boxes, with an outline of black around them. The stela is broken on all four sides, breaking off three areas (upper left, lower left and right) of the colored-block border. The yellow, green, red, blue, and brown colors are well preserved.




Sesostris III ca. 1850 BC (Middle Kingdom)

Usually the sculptures of kings and queens have youthful, confident, contented, and even slightly smiling facial expressions. King Sesostris III broke dramatically with this tradition, and his face shows signs of age, concern, and discontent. He may have wished his sculptors to show him as the shepherd of his people, heavily burdened by his care for their needs and the duties of monarchy. Among the most important ancient Egyptian sculptures in the collection, this statue is a classic representation of an Egyptian pharaoh. He is shown wearing the nemes head cloth (worn only by Egypt's monarchs) with a uraeus (protective serpent) at the brow, and a shendyit (pleated kilt). An unusual feature of this king's sculpture is the amulet suspended from a necklace.





Itj-ibj 1976-1911 BC (Middle Kingdom)

Discovered in the ancient necropolis, or burial ground, in Asyut in 1913, the statue is inscribed on either side of the block-like seat with the offering texts for Itj-ibj, a minor official, represented with a shoulder-length head covering and wearing a shendyit, or pleated kilt. While early 12th Dynasty in style, this impressive seated statue shows Itj-ibj in a classic pose copied from Old Kingdom sculpture: hands balanced on his thighs, the left flat and the right clenched in a fist, holding a folded cloth. Traces of red paint with white spots remain on the fleshy areas of the sculpture, and it has been suggested that the exposed parts of the body were painted to make the limestone resemble red granite, a more costly stone.


Isis with Hours the Child ca. 680-640 BC (Late Period)

For the ancient Egyptians, the goddess Isis was the model of the loyal wife and mother, as well as a powerful magician. She was the wife of the god Osiris and the mother of Hours. Just as the king of Egypt was associated with Hours in life and Osiris in death, queens of Egypt were linked with Isis, and their visual representations have similarities with the goddess. For example, both may be depicted wearing the vulture headdress shown here. The crown composed of a sun-disk and cow horns originally belonged to Hathor, but was assimilated by Isis.


Upper Part of a Statue of a Man 4th century BC (Late Period-early Greco-Roman)

Almost certainly a fragment of a life-size temple statue showing its owner reverently kneeling before his god, this figure is quite rare, perhaps even unique. The eyes and eyebrows were probably once inlaid with other materials, enhancing the liveliness of the facial features. The shaved head may indicate the owner's status as a cleric or high official.


Statue Group of Nen-kheft-ka and His Wife, Nefer-shemes ca. 2350 BC (Old Kingdom)

Found in a rock-cut tomb at Deshasheh, located about seventy miles to the south of modern Cairo, this pair statue of the mayor Nen-kheft-ka and his wife Nefer-shemes exemplifies in the pose and relative scale of its subjects the standard Egyptian artistic conventions for the representation of men and women. Nen-kheft-ka strides forward with his left foot and holds his arms closely at his sides, while his wife is depicted on a smaller scale and stands with her feet together. Each statue was carved separately and altered prior to burial to fit into a shared base.


Mummy Mask of a High Official ca. 2000-1980 BC (Middle Kingdom)

The use of a mummy mask is one of the most characteristic features of ancient Egyptian burial customs. Such cartonnage masks covered the head and the upper part of the chest of a mummy. Generally, they consist of layers of linen and gypsum that could be molded to the shape of the deceased. Finally, each mask was painted in bright colors. Because of their fragility, relatively few mummy masks of the Middle Kingdom have survived in as good a state of preservation as this one. The face is rendered in a formal, stylized way, giving it a somewhat stiff expression. Even so, some details are indicated: the bristles of the full beard, the mustache, and the eyebrows, all stippled in black over a blue ground. The man wears a voluminous wig with long, rounded ends, which are neatly rimmed with a decorative border. A broad collar composed of many rows of beads features falcon-headed terminals, which are held in position by strings emerging from under the wig on the mask's back. In addition, a simple necklace with a large pearl completes his adornment. But most striking is the richly ornamented diadem with a floral motif over the forehead. The model for this diadem was gold and silver, inlaid with semiprecious stones like carnelian, lapis lazuli, and turquoise. Although the original burial spot of the Walters' newly acquired mummy mask is not known, its general style and details undoubtedly indicate that it came from the necropolis at Asyut. At this important site, the capital of the 13th district of Upper Egypt, a French mission as well as the Egyptian nobleman Sayed Khashaba Pascha conducted intensive archaeological excavations during the early 20th century. Many rock-cut tombs belonging to the courtiers of the Asyut nomarchs (the rulers of the nome) were found untouched and still contained their original grave goods. This mask was probably discovered during the poorly documented Khashaba excavation, which left no records about related objects found in the tomb, including the coffin of the deceased with its inscriptions. Without records of his titles and name, the identity of the owner of this mask must remain a mystery.


Statue of a Man 664-600 BC (Late Period)

The artists of the Kushite rulers of the 25th Dynasty introduced a new realism into royal art and sculpture and also revitalized private sculpture. Kushite images had a broader cheek and stronger jaw, resulting in a more angular face than had been seen before. When the 26th Dynasty supplanted the 25th, the artistic center changed from the residence of the Kushite kings at Napata in southern Nubia, to Sais in Egypt's Delta, home to the new ruling family. The style also changed to a more idealized image with softer features. This early 26th Dynasty sculpture combines the angularity of the larger boned Kushite face with the new idealizing style of the Saite Period, producing a strong and polished image.


Kneeling Figure of Hor-wedja ca. 640-620 BC (Late Period)

Hor-wedja was the son of Vizier Sasobek, the highest-ranking official during the reign of King Psammetichus I. Hor-wedja's son Meryptah commissioned this temple sculpture for him. Hor-wedja kneels, presenting only himself to his god. He abases himself in the deity's presence but keeps his head erect, expressing respect and confidence. A hieroglyphic inscription gives the lineage and titles of Hor-wedja running in a horizontal band around the base, in a line across the top of the base and in a single vertical column on the back pillar. Hor-wedja kneels upon a rectangular base and his toes are splayed out in an unnatural way. He wears a belted shendyt kilt and a simple bag wig. The wide width of the wig is common for the Saite Period. The orientation of the wig onto the top of the back pillar is echoed in other sculptures from the 26th Dynasty through the reign of Apries. As is characteristic for the Saite Period his image is quite idealized. The body appears strong but the definition of the musculature is subtle. A strong median line is visible. His hands are placed flat upon his thighs and appear unusually plump. His facial features are also typical for the Saite Period: long almond-shaped eyes with straight brows above, long smooth cheeks, a long straight nose and a softly smiling mouth. The statue is well preserved and the polish is only marred by a few minor nicks.


Relief with Winged Genius 883-859 BC (Neo-Assyrian)

This relief decorated the interior wall of the northwest palace of King Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, which is situated in present-day Iraq. With his right hand, the genius (or benevolent spirit) uses a cone-shaped object to sprinkle from his bucket some magic potion upon either a sacred tree or the king depicted on the adjacent relief. The genius wears the horned crown of a deity and the elegant jewelry and fringed cloak of contemporary courtiers.




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