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16th February Fresh Stock: Egyptomania

The Lure of the Middle East

February 16th, 2022.

Egyptian embroidery wall hanging c.1915
Egyptian embroidery wall hanging c.1915
Watercolours depicting visits to the Middle East

Today we have some items relating to our fascination with Ancient Egypt.
Since Napoleon marched in and took over Egypt 1798 (and then the English kicking him out a few years later) the splendors of Egypt have captured the imagination of Western Cultures, inspiring them to create pieces in the same style – ‘Egyptomania’.
There’s a wall hanging depicting Osiris sewn onto Egyptian linen, a typical souvenir for a WWI ANZAC soldier to bring back from his adventures, either stationed in Egypt or passing through on troop ships – it would squash into a backpack easily.
There are some interesting watercolours from the 1910’s-20’s, when Egypt became fascinating all over again after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in late 1922. The papers & magazines were full of photos of the Ancient Egyptian treasures emerging from the Valley of the Kings, and ‘Egyptomania’ took hold. From this time is a small brass box, the lid presenting a good facsimile of the incredible scene from the back of King Tut’s tomb.
From Egypt comes a pair of bronze ‘temple’ bookends, mounted on Egyptian banded alabaster. From around 1900, there are some English pottery vessels with Egyptian figures as their decoration, made at Doulton, Lambeth.
To round it off, we have also attached some of the genuine Ancient Egyptian artifacts we have in stock, at the end of this page. And for those interested, we have something extremely special coming to Moorabool shortly; a small selection of supremely rare Ancient Egyptian artifacts, including a New Kingdom limestone head of a nobleman, nearly life-size, and a Royal ‘shabti’ figure from an important cache of Royal artifacts from the Valley of the Kings…. it would have emerged from the fabled ‘1st cache’ of Deir el Bahri, 1881. More on that soon!

King Tut Box

The small box in today’s Fresh Stock is a detailed product made in the aftermath of the discovery & opening of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt in late 1922; the various elements of decoration have taken inspiration from the many photographs published over the next few years as the incredible contents of the chambers were brought to the surface, revealing to the world the dazzling splendors of New Kingdom Egypt.

King Tut box, 1920's
King Tut box, 1920’s

This source is evident when we examine the seated figure being attended to by a female on the lid, with sun-disk above literally reaching down to anoint the couple with hands depicted on the ends of the sun-rays.  This is  very close to the back decoration of the golden throne from the tomb.

King Tut’s throne back, circa 1330 BC

It is an image of matrimonial affection, as it represents his wife Ankhesnamun in a scene of ‘domestic bliss’. A closer examination reveals she has an oil vessel in her left hand, and is therefore rubbing scented oil onto his shoulders. Another sweet detail is evident on the original, but too small to repeat on this box lid; she wears a foot-bangle on her right foot, and the Pharaoh one on his left; these are the symbols of matrimonial bonding, as-in the wedding ring in today’s cultures.

To the right of the queen is a tall stand supporting an elaborate set of ceremonial adornments – a large circular headdress, and two broad collars. This sets the scene – at the end of the day, the royal couple taking a moment, having taken off their heavy headdress & collars, just sitting back and relaxing in their palace room….. 

The hieroglyphics on our box, while accurately copied as individuals, have been simplified for aesthetics, and yet can still be deciphered by the trained eye; to the left are the two royal ‘cartouche’ names for the couple, . The elaborate pillars to either side, and the petal-border to the base and complex layered upper border all reflect the overall design seen on the throne.

It’s a well planned piece of ‘Egyptomania’, created to meet the demand for the exotic splendor of Ancient Egyptian stimulated by Howard Carter’s incredible discovery in 1922.

Enjoy!

‘Egyptomania’ fresh to stock

Ancient Egyptian artifacts already in stock

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