Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Egyptian Treasures: From the Collections of the Brooklyn Museum

Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
New York
ISBN 0-8109-2170-7

How I dislike oversized books this one though half a bookshelf long is not thick and it's size is exploited beautifully with full page photographs by Seth Joel.  Many beautiful objects in Brooklyn's collection of Egyptian art are represented though about half are trinkets only inches in size.

The book opens with a short introduction by Michael Botwinick then director of the museum with the commentaries of the chosen objects provided by Robert S. Bianchi. The book is about 29 objects from the collection starting with an attractive small gneiss statuette of a god from the 3rd Dynasty. I have some serious issues with number 2 in the book like 18 of the 29 pieces in the book are reportedly from or have no provenance at all.

The shawabti of the scribe Amenemhet is from tomb no. 82 in the Theban necropolis and still possesses much of its paint. Whatever I think of the selection of pieces the photographs are stunning. The figure of the spoonbill found at the palace of Amenhotep III at Malkata is an extremely rare example of Egyptian art and new to me though not a beautiful object.

The just over 3-inch nude ivory figure of a lady reportedly from the tomb of Tutankhamun is present among the pieces though unfortunately its base is omitted in the picture. The tiny gold scarab inscribed with the name Mutnedjem wife of King Horemheb is a work of great beauty at less than an inch long and without provenance.

The cartonnage of the priest Nespaneterenpera is a lovely example of mummy cases that enveloped upper-class mummies of the 21rst and 22nd dynasties, in this case, most probably from Thebes. Just over 6 inches tall the bronze of the god of the Ba of Pe is crafted in the austere elegance of the 26th Dynasty and one of my favorites in the book.

As we approach the end of the book we come to the small schist head of Wesir-wer where we find one of the most interesting of the choices for the book. The mixed media head of the god Osiris dated to the Ptolemaic period is full of life in its wonderful decay.

The silver and gilded wood ibis with rock crystal eyes is probably the finest example of it's kind that I know of. The Brooklyn Museum also has one of the finest collections of faience and a number of fine examples are represented in the book.

The book is a short read of a couple of hours and suitable for persons of all ages to enjoy a small treasury of gems from one of America's great Egyptian collections at the same time a fine tribute to the Brooklyn museums Egyptian collections great patron Charles Edwin Wilbour who made it all possible.

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