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Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: 19th Dynasty to Roman Period, Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Gallery, 3rd Floor

The late Eighteenth Dynasty was one of the the most flamboyant and excessive periods of design in Egyptian history. This spoon demonstrates the dominant aesthetic of the day: the complementary union of naturalistic elements, formal design, and excessive, stylized detailing.

The motif is a pomegranate branch terminating in a huge reddish-yellow fruit that swivels on a tiny pivot to reveal the bowl of the spoon. Tiny pomegranates, brightly painted flowers, and slender leaves project from the stem that serves as the handle. Beneath the lowest leaves the artisan has added an extraordinary embellishment: two lotus flowers, each with a Mimispos fruit emerging from it.

Although the individual elements of the spoon are treated with painstaking attention to detail, the design itself is pure fantasy. For example, pomegranate flowers and fruit never appear on a tree at the same time.

  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1336–1327 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY late Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 2 9/16 x 11/16 x 8 3/16 in. (6.5 x 1.8 x 20.8 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Polychromed ivory ointment-spoon in the shape of a pomegranate, with a stem bearing flowers and small pomegranates forming the handle. The pomegranate forming the bowl of the spoon is in two sections, the upper one serves as a cover. It opens on a swivel pin; part of a small knob (?) used for turning it still survives. The stem, bearing two pairs of flowers, three pairs of lanceolate leaves and a pair of small pomegranates, has, at the base two half-opened lotus flowers on long stems which are represented as being bound by withes to the pomegranate stem to form the manche of the handle. The large pomegranate forming bowl of the spoon is painted in a warm, pale brown, the flowers are deep red, the leaves, stem and small fruits black, the withes at the handle pale brown and the lotus stems red. Save that the underside of the large pomegranate is somewhat flattened to provide a surface on which to rest the spoon, the piece is identical on the two sides. Probably made for funerary purposes, not for actual use.
    CAPTION Spoon, ca. 1336–1327 B.C.E. Ivory, 2 9/16 x 11/16 x 8 3/16 in. (6.5 x 1.8 x 20.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 42.411. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 42.411_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 42.411_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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