Artist profile: Ancient Egypt – museum visit

Every month, I profile an artist that inspires my own art, in several segments.
All images in this post © 2012 The Cleveland Museum of Art. All rights reserved.

Vulture headdress inlay
This is only 1 1/8 inches long!

I was fortunate enough to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art and tour their Ancient Egyptian collection. It is soooo amazing!

It was actually the first time I’d ever seen Ancient Egyptian artifacts in person (crazy, I know). I was wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the beginning, but as I was with my Special Someone, I found myself pointing out things I recognized, explaining symbolism, and gushing about how much I love it. I was quite the chatterbox.

Coffin of Nesykhonsu
Coffin of Nesykhonsu

The collection at the museum spans a long period of time, including the Amarna period (more on that in a later post), Greek Egypt, and Roman Egypt. The objects range from tiny jewelry objects to a sarcophagus (in fantastic condition).

A few of my favorite objects (some of which deviate from the norm, gasp):

Coffin of Nesykhonsu (976-889 BCE)
The photo really doesn’t do it justice. This coffin is ridiculously gorgeous, detailed, and vibrant.




Book of the Dead of Hori
Book of the Dead of Hori

Book of the Dead of Hori (1969-945 BCE)
You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a page from The Book of the Dead. What is so delightful about this page is that one of the figures looks out at you (see upper left figure – the ears give it away). Virtually all depictions of humans, gods, goddesses, and animals in 2D media are drawn in profile, so this is somewhat startling to see in real life. (Sorry about the image size – I couldn’t find anything bigger.)


Statuette of a Serving Girl
Statuette of a Serving Girl

Statuette of a Serving Girl (1540-1186 BCE)
This is completely not canon, but I love it anyway. It’s simple, (non-canonically) curvy, and plain cool. The label at the museum said that it was likely an experiment. I can just imagine the artist completing the figurine and his/her boss saying, “No! This is different! Get rid of it!”




Paint Box of Vizier Amenemope
Paint Box of Vizier Amenemope

Paint Box of Vizier Amenemope (1427-1401 BCE)
Isn’t this fantastic? Again, seeing it in person is so much better – the colors are perfectly preserved and beautiful. I like it also because it’s an every-day object that someone actually used, over three thousand years ago. Those kinds of objects really bring it home for me, make me feel connected to humanity.


Well, enough gushing from me. Anytime you’re near Cleveland, stop in. They have fantastic European weapons, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine collections as well. Prepare to be amazed!


Other parts in the Ancient Egyptian artist profile series
Breaking the Standard (the Amarna Period)



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