For centuries, creators have been mesmerized by the art and culture of ancient Egypt. Some of the results of that fascination are on spectacular view, until Sept. 15, at Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada with Egyptomania, a stunning exhibition of almost 400 pieces. The show includes a wide range of objects—paintings, sculpture, stage designs, furniture, jewelry, ceramicscompleted between 1730 and 1930 by Western artists enamored of the Nile style. Organized by the National Gallery, the Louvre museum in Paris and the Kunsthistorisches museum in Vienna, Egyptomania also features 27 authentic Egyptian artworks dating back more than 3,000 years, including a nearly seven-foot statue of the pharoah Ramses II. The National Gallery’s associate curator of Euro-
pean art, Michael Pantazzi, one of three experts who organized the show, says that it was “staggering” to discover the extent to which Egyptian styles “keep coming back and are born from the slightest provocation.”
The past two centuries’ infatuation with Egypt can be traced to late-1700s Italy, where construction crews encountered artifacts and monuments created when imperial Rome was in the throes of its own Egyptian vogue. Since then, there have been several waves of Nile chic—including one inspired by Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt in 1798. The exhibition also explores the Egyptian influence on Art Deco. An exotic feast for the eyes, the show could spark yet another bout of Egyptomania.
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