Northwestern Events Calendar


The Splendid Appearance of Things Mundane: Victorian Artists and the Allure of Ancient Egypt

When: Thursday, April 12, 2018
5:15 PM - 6:30 PM  

Where: Kresge Hall, 2-351, 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Alison Witt-Janssen   847.491.7597

Group: Department of Classics

Department of Art History

Category: Academic


Stephanie Moser, University of Southampton, will present "The Splendid Appearance of Things Mundane": Victorian Artists and the Allure of Ancient Egypt, a talk co-sponsored by Art History and Classics.

The second half of the nineteenth century saw the "coming together" of art and archaeology in Britain, where art played a powerful role in delineating the past and archaeology assumed an important role in art movements of the time. The close relationship between these two areas is revealed by the potent artistic response to new archaeological discoveries and museum installations. Intrigued by displays of domestic antiquities, prominent Victorian artists, such as Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Sir Edward Poynter, and Edwin Long, created compelling pictures of the ancient world that significantly shaped the way it was perceived. With extensive and detailed visual representations of ancient material culture, their work highlighted the power of objects to evoke the past. Their focus on smaller utilitarian objects drew attention to the beauty of ordinary things, providing a tantalizing glimpse into the private lives of ancient ancestors. Ultimately, the passion for the "minutiae" of life expressed in the paintings represented a particular way of engaging with the past. While scholars in many disciplines have recognized the nineteenth century's enthusiasm for antiquity, we have yet to examine the nature and impact of this response as communicated in art. This lecture presents the results of a major study on the reception of ancient Egypt by Victorian artists, demonstrating how their pictures played a critical role in defining this intriguing culture.

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