KIMBELL ART MUSEUM
Statue of the Goddess Mut
New Kingdom, early 19th dynasty (ca. 1292-1250 B.C.E.)
Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy
Statuette of Ahmose-Nefertari
New Kingdom, 18th dynasty (ca. 1539-1292 B.C.E.)
Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy
Kimbell Art Museum - Queen Nefertari's Egypt
Exhibition on Display: December 6, 2020 - March 14, 2021
Queen Nefertari's Egypt celebrates the wives of pharaohs
during the New Kingdom period (1550-1070 BC), when Egyptian civilization was at
The Kimbell Art Museum presents a sweeping showcase of female power and influence
during the height of ancient Egyptian civilization in the upcoming exhibition
Queen Nefertari's Egypt, on view from December 6, 2020, through March 14, 2021.
At the heart of the exhibition is Queen Nefertari, who was renowned for her
beauty and prominence. Called "the one for whom the sun shines," Nefertari was
the favorite wife of pharaoh Ramesses II. She and other women of ancient Egypt
are brought to life through 230 objects from temples, tombs, palaces and the
artisan village of Deir el-Medina, presenting the richness of Egyptian culture
some 3,000 years ago.
Drawn from the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, one of the most important and extensive
collections of ancient Egyptian works in the world, these exceptional objects
highlight the role of women - goddesses, queens and artisans - in Egypt's New Kingdom
period (c. 1539 - 1075 B.C.). Visitors can expect to see majestic statues, exquisite
jewelry, decorated vases, papyrus manuscripts, carved steles, splendid stone
sarcophagi and intricately painted wooden coffins, as well as tools and items
of daily life from the craftsmen who built the royal tombs.
"Ancient Egypt has long fascinated the modern world," said Eric M. Lee, director
of the Kimbell Art Museum, "and we are thrilled to present this remarkable
exhibition that is altogether alluring, grand, exotic and captivating. We are
especially grateful to the Museo Egizio for lending us this extraordinary
collection of objects."
Queen Nefertari: "The One for Whom the Sun
Nefertari is one of the most celebrated queens of ancient Egypt alongside
Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. She was the Great Royal Wife, the favorite
of pharaoh Ramesses II (reigned from 1279 to 1213 B.C.) - builder of grand
monuments, vast tombs and monumental temples. Although few details are known
about Nefertari, archaeological records reveal that she was highly regarded and
educated and could read and write hieroglyphs. Using these skills, she aided the
pharaoh in his diplomatic work.
Until the early 1900s, Nefertari was known only through a few finds, such as
sculptures, tomb paintings and hieroglyphs related to Ramesses II. In 1904,
Italian archaeologist and then director of the Museo Egizio, Ernesto Schiaparelli,
uncovered Nefertari's tomb in the Valley of the Queens, located near the ancient
capital of Thebes.
When the tomb was opened, he discovered brilliantly painted scenes depicting the
perilous and challenging journey Nefertari had to make to appease the gods on her
path to immortality. While the tomb itself proved to be extraordinary, he found
that robbers had looted nearly all of its contents soon after it was sealed. The
objects that were recovered, however, hint at what must have been a magnificent
treasure trove of furniture, precious oils and other provisions for the afterlife.
Objects found inside the tomb, presumed to belong to Queen Nefertari, are included
in the exhibition.
The pharaoh, goddesses and the temple
In ancient Egypt, the pharaoh served as the empire's spiritual, judicial and
political leader. While living, he was considered the incarnation of Horus, son
of the sun god Ra, temporarily living among mortals. Death would transform the
pharaoh into a full god, Ra, but while on Earth, the pharaoh was charged with
maintaining justice, truth, order and cosmic balance.
The exhibition opens with a monumental granite sculpture of Nefertari's husband,
the great pharaoh Ramesses II, seated between the sun god Amun and his wife, the
goddess Mut - the two patron deities of Thebes.
One of the most frightening Egyptian deities was the lion-headed Sekhmet, goddess
of divine wrath. During the reign of Amenhotep III (c. 1390 - 1353 B.C.), hundreds
of statues depicting Sekhmet were produced, including the four imposing sculptures
displayed in the exhibition. Worshippers made offerings to Sekhmet daily to ask
for her protection and ensure she remained in her gentle, domesticated form: the
cat goddess, Bastet.
Although temple ceremonies were traditionally carried out by men, women also
served the gods. Egypt's queens played an important role in religious processions
and celebrations, representing the female aspect of the divine on Earth. The
goddess Mut - whose name means "mother" - embodied the ideal Egyptian woman.
She was a supportive and dutiful wife, a powerful queen and an honored goddess.
This blend of qualities made her a role model for women in all spheres of
Egyptian society. Nefertari was also known as Nefertari Meritmut, which means
"Beloved of [the goddess] Mut."
Women in ancient Egypt
Women were active participants in all spheres of ancient Egyptian society, from
the fields and the courtroom to temples and palaces. Men and women were treated
as equals in the eyes of the law. All women had the right to own property, run
businesses and bring cases before the courts. Despite their unusual legal
equality, women were primarily tasked with raising children and running the household.
The exhibition explores women's roles in religion, life in the palace and their
beauty and adornment rituals. Musical instruments, bronze mirrors, boxes and
jars for cosmetic powders and ointments and precious jewelry offer a glimpse of
women's life and notions of beautification.
Daily life in the artisan village of Deir
Schiaparelli also made significant discoveries in the village of Deir el-Medina -
located on the west bank of the Nile near Thebes and home to artisans working on
royal tombs - that give us a remarkable understanding of what daily life would
have been like for the builders and craftsmen who constructed Nefertari's tomb,
as well as their families.
Visitors will see household items, tools such as brushes and draftsmen's sticks,
pickaxes and chisels, ostraca (limestone or pottery sketchpads of ancient Egyptian
scribes and artists) and funerary votive statues that provide a sense of the way
people lived, worked and practiced religion more than 3,000 years ago.
Built by the artisans from Deir el-Medina, Nefertari's tomb was constructed
around 1250 B.C. and consists of two parts - the upper antechambers and the
lower burial chamber, connected by descending staircases. The structure evoked
a convoluted path that the deceased had to follow to reach the afterlife.
Sometimes called "the Sistine Chapel of Egypt," the tomb's elaborately painted
walls feature Nefertari and an array of gods and goddesses, animals and insects
and hieroglyphic magic spells, illustrating the intricate process of passing
through the underworld to eternal life.
A historic wooden model, complete with paintings to scale, was built following
the discovery of the tomb in the Valley of the Queens and provides context for
the objects on display. The model, which is on view in the exhibition, was so
accurate that it helped in the conservation of the tomb in the 1980s.
Objects found inside the tomb, including fragments of Nefertari's massive pink
granite sarcophagus lid, wooden shabtis (small figures who could perform manual
labor in the afterlife), a beautiful gold and faience amulet in the shape of a
djed-pillar (a symbol of stability) and a pair of woven palm-leaf sandals (U.S.
women's size 9), are part of the exhibition. Visitors can also see a pair of
mummified knees that may be the queen's only surviving mortal remains.
While excavating in the Valley of the Queens, Schiaparelli discovered the tombs
of two sons of Ramesses III (1187 - 1157 B.C.). Their tombs were constructed in
the 20th dynasty (c. 1189 - 1077 B.C.) but reused about five centuries later.
The exhibition closes with a number of beautifully decorated human-form coffins
from these tombs, sculpted or painted with the eyes shown open as if the deceased
were still alive.
"I hope visitors will appreciate the high level of artisanship in these works,"
said Jennifer Casler Price, curator of Asian, African and Ancient American art,
"whether it is a majestic carved stone sculpture, an exquisite piece of jewelry,
a precious perfume jar, a beautifully painted piece of domestic pottery, a humble
painter's brush, delicately painted papyri, intricately painted coffins or even
a queen's pair of unassuming palm sandals."
During its nearly 50-year history, the Kimbell Art Museum has presented several
significant exhibitions of Egyptian art, including Egypt's Dazzling Sun:
Amenhotep II and His World (1992), Gifts of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Faience
(1998), Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt (2002) and Hatshepsut:
From Queen to Pharaoh (2006), which focused on one of the most enigmatic rulers
in Egyptian history. Among the Kimbell's collection are three superb examples of
ancient Egyptian statuary, including Portrait Statue of Amenhotep II, which was
recarved for Ramesses II, Nefertari's husband, around 1250 B.C. and acquired in
Queen Nefertari's Egypt adds an exciting new show to the Kimbell's special
exhibition repertoire and casts light on royal life in the palace, the roles
of women in ancient Egypt, the everyday life of artisans and the powerful
belief system and ritual practices around death and the afterlife.
"I hope that these incredible objects give our visitors a sense of stepping
back in time and into the footsteps of ancient Egyptians, both royal and
commoner," Casler Price said. "We're thrilled to bring the best of ancient
Egypt back to Fort Worth."
-- Courtesy of The Kimbell Art Museum
About the Collection
The Kimbell's permanent collection is small in size, comprising fewer than 350
works of art, and is distinguished by an extraordinary level of artistic quality
and importance. The idea of building a choice collection of representative
masterpieces was established by the Board of Directors of the Kimbell Art
Foundation in consultation with Museum's first director, Richard F. (Ric)
Brown, in a Policy Statement of June 1, 1966:
The dominating principle involved in the acquisition process is that the
stature of the Museum depends more upon the quality of the definitive objects
that it contains than on the historical completeness of its collections. A
prospective addition to the collections, therefore, is to be judged from the
standpoint of aesthetic quality and typicality, and whether it defines a master,
period, school, style, or area. The goal shall be definitive excellence, not
size of collection.
Leaving to older and larger institutions the role of collecting broadly and in
depth, the Kimbell has continued to pursue quality over quantity. Its holdings
range from the third millennium B.C. to the mid-20th century and include major
works by Duccio, Fra Angelico, Caravaggio, Poussin, Velázquez, Bernini, Rembrandt,
Goya, Monet, Cézanne, Picasso, Mondrian, and Matisse. The collection comprises
Asian and non-Western as well as European art, and extends only to the mid-20th
century in recognition that this is where the collection of the Modern Art Museum
of Fort Worth begins, and omits American art since this is the focus of another
neighboring institution, the Amon Carter Museum.
The Kimbell's select holdings of antiquities range from the Egyptian Old Kingdom of the third millennium B.C. through ancient Assyria, Greece, and Rome, and to the Early Christian Church in the fifth century.
The collection of European paintings and sculpture is remarkably rich in works of the Italian Renaissance, although its fullest and most celebrated holdings are in Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Flemish works of the 17th century.
The Asian collection comprises sculptures, paintings, bronzes, ceramics, and works of decorative art from China, Korea, Japan, India, Nepal, Tibet, Cambodia, and Thailand.
Precolumbian art is represented by Maya works in ceramic, stone, shell, and jade; Olmec, Zapotec, and Aztec sculpture; and pieces from the Conte and Wari cultures.
African and Oceanic Art
The African collection consists primarily of bronze, wood, and terracotta sculpture from West and Central Africa, including examples from Nigeria, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Oceanic art is represented by a Maori figure.
About The Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell Art Museum, owned and operated by the Kimbell Art Foundation, is
internationally renowned for both its collections and for its architecture.
The Kimbell's collections range in period from antiquity to the 20th century
and include European masterpieces by artists such as Fra Angelico, Michelangelo,
Caravaggio, Poussin, Velázquez, Monet, Picasso and Matisse; important
collections of Egyptian and classical antiquities; and Asian, Mesoamerican
and African art.
The Museum's building, designed by the American architect Louis I. Kahn, is
widely regarded as one of the outstanding architectural achievements of the
modern era. A second building, designed by world-renowned Italian architect
Renzo Piano, is scheduled to open November 27, 2013, and will provide space
for special exhibitions, allowing the Kahn building to showcase the permanent collection.
For additional information please contact:
Jessica Brandrup, Head of Marketing and Public Relations
Barbara Smith, Public Relations Coordinator
call: (817-332-8451) ext. 248 or
log on to http://www.kimbellart.org
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