Monday, April 23, 2012

Exhibition: Late pharaonic art

Al Ahram Weekly (David Tresilian)

Crépuscule des pharaons, chefs d'oeuvre des dernières dynasties égyptiennes, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, until 23 July 2012.
Following the end of the ancient Egyptian New Kingdom in around 1000 BCE, Egypt entered a long "late period," book-ended by the arrival of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, during which dynasties rose and fell with bewildering frequency. Political fragmentation and various foreign invasions only exacerbated centuries of decline.

Few of the sort of magnificent temples that had marked the apogee of ancient Egyptian civilisation during the previous New Kingdom were built, and while the country's characteristic political and religious organisation was in the main preserved, the pharaohs that ruled Egypt during the centuries of its decline are on the whole rather anonymous figures, not leaving painted tombs behind them like those on the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor and often ruling for short periods and over only parts of the country.

However, as a current exhibition at the musée Jacquemart-André in Paris reveals, the thousand years or so of ancient Egypt's late period also gave rise to a late style, notably of characteristic ancient Egyptian forms of art such as sculpture, which introduced many intriguing new innovations while continuing in the traditions laid down by the ancestors of the period's artists and artisans.

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