collection, are pioneer explorations in one of the most neglected but notably important areas of the art of ancient Egypt. Practically every collection, public and private, in the United States is represented. For at least the next half century it will remain the definitive work for this period."
The work represented is a visual demonstration of an important period in the history of Man, the beginning of an era of creative revival of the art of sculpture, stimulated by conquering rulers and their courtiers who temporarily occupied the lands of ancient Egypt and commissioned sculptors of the Late Period to model their likenesses in hard stone to survive the centuries as lasting monuments. For that reason, though most of the statues of the Late Period reflect the influence of the best of the sculpture of centuries past, a new trend was introduced - attempts were made to endow the faces of the statues with something more than a benign and idealized expression, to mold them with the features of definite people, to give them the character and feeling of the inner life of the men they represented. The beginning of this period, in 700 B.C., was the beginning of the trend toward almost brutal realism in sculpture. In less than 200 years the development of realism in the portraiture of Egypt influenced the artists of Greece, eventually Rome and, finally, all sculptors of the western world.
In the years of preparation for the international Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, every available sculpture of the period was systematically recorded in photography, and a comprehensive file was developed. Specific attention was given to the measurements of fragmentary pieces and, whenever possible, to the details of inscriptions which might lead to the important discoveries that headless statues in some collections may, originally, have belonged to bodiless heads in other collections.
Mr. Bothmer announced “this Exhibition is probably the only show of ancient statuary in which so large a number of dispersed members have been - at least temporarily - made whole.”
It was discovered that the dispersed head of the Master of the Antechamber, Iahmes-sa-neith, from the temple of the god Ptah at Memphis, in the collection of the Musée du Louvre, is the upper part of a kneeling figure in the Brooklyn Museum’s collection. In the Exhibition the 2 pieces will be shown together, “made whole” for the first time in the hundreds of years since they were desecrated, perhaps by vandals or during one of the many disastrous earthquakes of Egypt. It was also discovered that a bust in the Metropolitan Museum in New York belonged to a torso in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. At least 2,000 years have passed since this statue was discarded and thrown into a pit in the temple of Karnak. The lower part was uncovered in 1904 and was sent directly to Cairo. Three years later the upper portion turned up in the Cairo market, but the relationship of the 2 fragments was unrecognized for more than half of this century.
Other sculptures temporarily reunited for the Exhibition will include the black granite head of a man in the collection of the Chicago Natural History Museum where, for lack of more specific information, it was known as “Head of a Priest of Amon, Thebes”. Research for the Exhibition revealed that this head matched a torso in the Brooklyn Museum with an inscription revealing that this Priest of Amun was named Mentuemhat, the most powerful Egyptian of his day, virtual ruler of Upper Egypt, mayor of Thebes, and great patron of the arts whose tomb rivaled the grandeur and beauty of any in ancient Egypt.
In recent years the extraordinary contribution of Late Period sculpture has received the recognition it deserves. Until about a quarter of a century ago, what little credit was given to the art of this Period of Egypt, was based entirely on a single piece of sculpture of about 100 - 50 B.C. This great portrait, known as the “Berlin Green Head,” on loan for this Exhibition from the Berlin State Museum is a masterpiece of anatomical detail in artistic form. Carved in green schist, it is the work of an artist who produced a portrait that reveals both the nature and the mind of a strong and perceptive person.
Another justly famous head in the Exhibition, considered to be the best example of the group of heroic sculptures of the first century B.C., is the noble “Black Head” from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, a collection of Egyptian art recognized as the best in the Western Hemisphere.
A physically perfect and well-proportioned body was one of the sculptural ideals attained by the Egyptians early in their civilization. From the collection of the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, Egypt, the sculpture, “a girl or goddess”, is a great statue which expresses the aesthetic perfection of the human form in Egyptian art, a perfection which inspired Greek sculptors to create something similar in their art. Sculptures of the female body in Egypt exist because of Greek influence. The presumed ban on stone sculpture of living women, which had lasted many centuries, was removed, only after the arrival of Alexander the Great in Egypt.
There are numerous other great and famous works of art among the 141 masterpieces of Egyptian sculpture of the Late Period shown in a dramatic installation designed for the Exhibition. The historic importance, the great beauty of the sculpture and the newsworthy fact that this is the first showing of its kind makes the Exhibition a rare and exciting event, to be seen at the Brooklyn Museum from October 18, 1960 to January 9, 1961.
There will be an invitational preview of the Exhibition for members of the Museum and their guests on Monday evening, October 17.
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Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1960, 047-50. View Original
October 26, 1960
The world’s leading authority on Egyptian Sculpture of the Late Period, Mr. Bernard V. Bothmer, will present an illustrated lecture at the Brooklyn Museum on Sunday afternoon at 3:45. Mr. Bothmer, Associate Curator of Ancient Art at the Brooklyn Museum, will discuss “Late Egyptian Sculpture,” in conjunction with the heralded Exhibition currently on view at the Museum. The public is invited to attend the lecture which is first in the Fall series at the Brooklyn Museum.
The Exhibition of Egyptian Sculpture, which can be viewed by everyone before and after the lecture, was reported by Stuart Preston, in the New York Times as “A memorable Exhibition.” Emily Genauer, art critic of the Herald Tribune, wrote “The Brooklyn Museum has rare collection,” and she continued “The Exhibition, which took ten years to assemble, consists of 140 sculptures in stone, bronze, wood, ivory and faience gathered from fifty public and private collections, including the Louvre, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria and museums in Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Canada and the United States.” -- Cue Magazine called the show “A must” and Time Magazine reported that it is “The most comprehensive exhibition of Late Egyptian Sculpture ever shown.”
It will be a rare and interesting experience to visit the Exhibition and then hear Mr. Bernard Bothmer’s lecture on Sunday afternoon at the Brooklyn Museum.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1960, 051. View Original