Friday, July 23, 2010

Exhibition at the Museu Egipci de Barcelona, Spain

La Vanguardia

El Museu Egipci de Barcelona exhibe desde este martes 180 obras de arte, entre piezas arqueológicas, fotografías y libros, procedentes de la Colección Arqueológica Egipcia Jordi Clos que no se habían mostrado antes al público y que desvelan algunos aspectos clave de la vida cotidiana del país de los faraones.

La muestra 'Secretos del Museu Egipci', que se podrá visitar hasta el 30 de diciembre, ha sido comisariada por el conservador del museo, Luis Manuel Gonzálvez, y arranca con un muestrario de los inicios de la fotografía en Egipto, a partir de 1840.

En este apartado queda el testimonio de los primeros viajes de los exploradores y artistas europeos al país del Nilo, como Maxime du Camp, que entre 1849 y 1851 emprendió una "aventura oriental" con su amigo Gustave Flaubert; un joven Auguste Bartholdi -el escultor de la Estatua de la Libertad de Nueva York- y el inglés Francis Firth, que en sus tres expediciones a Egipto reunió alrededor de 4.000 imágenes.

La atmósfera de esos primeros viajes queda impregnada en las páginas de libros de referencia, como 'Album du Musée de Boulaq' (1872), del creador del Servicio de Antigüedades de Egipto, Auguste Mariette, y la monumental edición de 'L'Egypte et la Nubie' (1887), del fotógrafo Emilie Béchard.

Sin embargo, la parte más llamativa de la exposición llega con el segundo ámbito, el de la joyería.

As from Tuesday the Egyptian Museum of Barcelona from will be exhibiting 180 works of art, including antiquities, photographs and books, from the Egyptian Archaeological Collection Jordi Clos which have not been displayed to the public before and which reveal some key aspects of everyday life in the land of the pharaohs.

The exhibition Secrets of the Egyptian Museum, which will be open until 30 December, has been organized by the museum's Luis Manuel Gonzálvez, and starts with a sample of early photography in Egypt from 1840 .

This section preserves the testimony of the early voyages made by European explorers and artists to the country of the Nile, for example Maxime du Camp who between 1849 and 1851 carried out his "oriental adventures" with his friend Gustave Flaubert, the young Auguste Bartholdi (sculptor of the Statue of Liberty in New York), and the Englishman Francis Firth, who in his three expeditions to Egypt produced 4,000 images.

The atmosphere of those first trips is steeped in the pages of reference books such as Album du Musée de Boulaq (1872) by the creator of the Antiquities of Egypt Auguste Mariette, and the L'Egypte et Nubia (1887) by the photographer Emilie Béchard.

However, the most striking part of the exhibition comes with the second focus of the exhibition, the jewelry. There are necklaces made with all kinds of materials, from humble terracotta to semiprecious stones like turquoise and lapis lazuli.

Most of them were purchased at auction in lots, mixed up in bags, and Clos himself was responsible for re-shaping the necklaces based on earlier designs.

Some of them incorporate forms of Egyptian deities including the god Bes, who named the island of Ibiza, and characters with hypertrophic phalluses, which evidently belonged to the Ptolemaic period, since, as reported Gonzálvez, Greeks and Romans were "far less restrained" the Egyptians in sexual matters.

Apart from the formal beauty of the pieces, some of them hide a unique history as is the case with a set of necklaces recently acquired by the Egyptian Museum which belonged to Baron Hans von Wolfgang Herwarth Bittenfeld, an intellectual from Nazi Germany who became Chief of External Relations in the Ministry of Propaganda managed by Goebbels.

The world of cosmetics and beauty is represented by small containers with kohl, and a sumptuous stone ware pottery of the First and Second Dynasties (2920-2649 BC). These vessels belonged to Colonel Irvine, the personal physician of Princess Mary of England, who was charged with the task of accompanying her when she visited the tomb of Tutankhamen.

The last part of the exhibition is reserved for funerary matters and is dominated by a ceramic jar of the XVIII dynasty (1350 BC) very similar to those found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, which, is, however, not surprising, since that the grave goods of the Pharaohs was produced in a "pseudoindustrial" manner, Clos once explained.

There also alabaster canopic jars, which stored the viscera of the deceased after they were mummified. Within the jackal was the stomach, in the hawk the intestine in the humans headed jars the liver, and the baboon was tasked with preserving the lungs.

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