• Tokyo-Paris: Two LDMLs
Presentation organinzed by :
  • DNP
Sixth Louvre - DNP Museum Lab presentation
Portraits of Women in Egypt, 1800 Years Ago
From July 18, 2009 (Sat.) to December 19, 2009 (Sat.)
© 2007-2008 Musée du Louvre / Georges Poncet 

The artworks that are displayed in this presentation are Egyptian portraits that were painted on wood in the 2nd century AD during the period of Roman domination. Commonly known as "Fayum portraits," they were painted during the models' lifetimes and fixed to their mummies when they died, thereby replacing pharaonic funerary masks. Fayum portraits resulted from a combination of Egyptian funerary rituals, the Greek technique of encaustic* painting, and the Roman portrait tradition; they reflect an extraordinary blend of artistic, cultural, and historical features that exert an irresistible appeal on the viewer's imagination and curiosity.
With its unique charm and exceptionally skillful execution, the portrait known as "L'Européenne" is one of the major artworks in the Louvre's collection. The impact of the young woman's presence stems largely from her slightly lowered, strangely melancholic gaze, which seems to avoid that of the viewer. Some 1800 years later, the realism of this portrait still has the power to touch. An experience transcending time and space awaits you at Museum Lab…

* with a wax-based binder

Encountering paintings as a moving testimony to Egypt in the 2nd century AD

These portraits, striking in terms of both their artistic value and their realistic representation that provides us with a fresh take on the traditional image we have of Egyptian antiquity, form an eloquent testimony to one page in the history of a civilization.
Through an encounter with portraits painted 1800 years ago, the sixth presentation provides an opportunity not only to discover their appeal as artworks, but also to attempt to decipher the signs that make them into expressions of history, culture, and religion.
This twofold—pictorial and archeological—approach to the works will doubtless enable us to be moved by this now lost civilization.

Encountering the women of antiquity—exploring the significance of leaving one's image behind...

The "human figure" is the theme running across the Louvre - DNP Museum Lab project. The works selected for the sixth presentation are Roman-Egyptian portraits with their realistic portrayals not of kings and powerful figures but of anonymous women who lived during the 2nd century AD. As such, these works provide not only historical evidence of the past, but also evidence of the existence of the individuals depicted.
What image of themselves did they want to leave behind?
As we carefully examine the techniques employed by the artists (often imperceptible to the naked eye), the effects produced, or indeed the codes of representation, we are also led to ponder the significance of having one's portrait made or of leaving behind an image of oneself, particularly through exchanges with other visitors.
This experience transcending time and space invites us to think about our own relationship to these images and to these traces of the past.

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