Greek Faces? The Early Reception of Roman Mummy Portraits

Greek Faces? The Early Reception of Roman Mummy Portraits

Date and time

Thursday 11 April, 5.45–7pm

Pigott Education Centre Rooms 2/3

Dr Debbie Challis, Audience Development Officer, Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Tickets

Admission free

RSVP to nicholas.donaldson@ng-london.org.uk or 020 7747 2576

Please use the Pigott Education Centre Entrance in Orange Street



About the talk

The faces of the mummy portrait panels discovered in and around the Fayum area of Egypt have enthralled museum and gallery audiences since the time of their discovery in the 1880s. Dr Challis will consider how racial identity was read in the faces of these portrait panels by the people who popularised them on their first display in the western world; namely the novelist and campaigner Amelia Edwards, the novelist and antiquarian Georg Ebers and the archaeologist Flinders Petrie.

Dr Challis will also explore the perception that these portraits were a lost link between early Renaissance and ancient Greek art and how racial theory was fed by and fed this assumption, as well as some of the reverberating implications of this assumption.

This paper will specifically consider the portraits excavated by Flinders Petrie from Hawara in 1888, their exhibition and the acquisition of some of them by the National Gallery. In his 1931 autobiography, Flinders Petrie commented that he was proud that these portraits were still on display in the National Gallery, yet only a few years later they were transferred on loan to the British Museum and have since been re-defined as archaeological objects offering evidence for the lives of people in Roman-ruled Egypt.

Dr Challis will finish with a brief look at how recent exhibitions have drawn on their multi-faceted identities and constructions to interpret Greek-influenced, Roman-ruled Egypt.

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