Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids

Posted By: TimMa
Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids

Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids
Metropolitan Museum of Art/H.N.Abrams | 1999 | ISBN: 0870999060/0810965437 | English | PDF | 536 pages | 99.21 Mb

The Old Kingdom (about 2650-2150 B.C.E.) was the first golden age of Egyptian culture, a period that determined the form and character of Egyptian art for centuries to come. From the Third through the Sixth Dynasty, not only were the pyramids built in vast construction efforts, but artists working in an array of mediums and techniques– stone, wood, precious metals, monumental statuary, reliefs, and wall paintings– created masterpieces that still have the power to move us more than four millennia later.

This splendid volume, published to accompany a landmark exhibition organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux in Paris, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, brings together 115 Old Kingdom masterworks from museum collections throughout the world. Included are sculptures executed with such an acute observation of musculature and body movement that they brought an unprecedented realism to the rendering of men, women, children, and animals. Several depictions of family groups in particular show the sensitivity with which Old Kingdom artists illuminated human relationships. Individual masterpieces include the monumental statue of Hemiunu, thought to be responsible for the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza; groups representing the Fourth Dynasty king Menkaure with a queen and various deities; and a unique alabaster statuette showing the Sixth Dynasty queen Ankh-nes-meryre II holding her son, the child king Pepi II, in her lap. In addition, there are delicate relief carvings that provide some of the earliest, most joyful artistic representations of daily life, stunning decorative-art pieces (jars, vases, jewelry, even a musical instrument), and a number of rare Old Kingdom wall paintings. The lively text by Dorothea Arnold offers an overview of the history, society, and art of the Old Kingdom and an informative discussion of each of the illustrated works. All of the pieces were newly photographed for the book by Bruce White.
Lenders to the Exhibition

Directors' Foreword
Françoise Cachin, Philippe de Montebello, Lindsay Sharp

Dorothea Arnold, Krzystof Grzymski, Christiane Ziegler

Contributors to the Catalogue and Key to the Authors of the Entries


Notes to the Reader


A Note on Egyptian Chronology
Élisabeth David

Dynastic and Regnal Dates
James P. Allen

Dorothea Arnold, Christiane Ziegler

Introductory Essays

A Brief History of the Old Kingdom
Jean Leclant

The Step Pyramid Precinct of King Djoser
Jean-Philippe Lauer

Pyramids and Their Temples
Audran Labrousse

The Tombs of Officials: Houses of Eternity
Peter Jánosi

Old Kingdom Statues in their Architectural Setting
Dieter Arnold

Royal Statuary
Krzysztof Grzymski

Nonroyal Statuary
Christiane Ziegler

Reserve Heads: An Enigma of Old Kingdom Sculpture
Catharine H. Roehrig

Royal Reliefs
Dorothea Arnold

The Human Image in Old Kingdom Nonroyal Reliefs
Nadine Cherpion

Furniture of the Old Kingdom
Julie Anderson

Stone Vessels: Luxury Items with Manifold Implications
Dorothea Arnold and Elena Pischikova

Excavating the Old Kingdom: From Khafres Valley Temple to the Governors City at Balat
Nicolas Grimal

Excavating the Old Kingdom: the Giza Necropolis and Other Mastaba Fields
Peter Der Manuelian

Excavating the Old Kingdom: The Egyptian Archaeologists
Zahi Hawass


Third Dynasty
Fourth Dynasty
Fifth Dynasty
Sixth Dynasty




Photograph Credits

Allen, James P., Susan Allen, Julie Anderson, Dieter Arnold, Dorothea Arnold, Nadine Cherpion, Élisabeth David, Nicolas Grimal, Krzysztof Grzymski, Zahi Hawass, Marsha Hill, Peter Jánosi, Sophie Labée-Toutée, Audran Labrousse, Jean-Philippe Lauer, Jean Leclant, Peter Der Manuelian, N. B. Millet, Adela Oppenheim, Diana Craig Patch, Elena Pischikova, Patricia Rigault, Catharine H. Roehrig, Dietrich Wildung, and Christiane Ziegler

The New York Times Book Review
"… contains essays by renowned Egyptologists and is richly illustrated with hundreds of black-and-white and color photographs."
Library Journal
"… well-written and very accessible … The real treasure of the book lies in Araldo De Luca's stunning photographs. Often, De Luca sees with his camera's eye things that few visitors would notice. The book's large trim allows for many life-size illustrations, and at all times the illustrations do justice to a phenomenal collection. Highly recommended …"
Choice Reviews Online
"… poignant, clear, comprehensive, and up-to-date … big, well-lighted and enticing photographs … the careful observation, verbal presentations of techniques, and the scholarship will keep this book in use."

Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids