Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt

Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt

by Euphrosyne Doxiadis
     
 

In the first three centuries A.D., in a fertile district of Roman Egypt called the Fayum, a diverse community of Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Syrians, Libyans, Nubians, and Jews flourished. These people, and many of their contemporaries throughout the Nile Valley, embalmed the bodies of their dead and then placed over the faces portraits painted on wooden panels or… See more details below

Overview

In the first three centuries A.D., in a fertile district of Roman Egypt called the Fayum, a diverse community of Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Syrians, Libyans, Nubians, and Jews flourished. These people, and many of their contemporaries throughout the Nile Valley, embalmed the bodies of their dead and then placed over the faces portraits painted on wooden panels or linen. These paintings, today known as Fayum, or mummy, portraits, were created to preserve the memory of each individual. The Fayum portraits are by far the most important body of portraiture to have survived antiquity. Reproduced in this arresting book are some 180 of the finest of the more than 1,000 extant images - of men, women, and children, young and old, plain and beautiful - all of whom seem uncannily alive. A few of these faces have become familiar to scholars and museum-goers, but as a whole they have been neglected by art historians and will be new to most readers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Made in the lush Fayum region of Greco-Roman Egypt during the first three centuries A.D., portraits of the embalmed, mummified dead-each painted on a thin wooden panel or linen shroud and placed over the face to preserve the memory of the individual-are among the glories of world art. Staring at us with intense, disturbing gazes, these men and women speak to us as if from the otherworld, transcending mortality and death. Greek artist Doxiadis, who traveled to museums and collections around the world to study the Fayum portraits, has produced an important and beautiful volume that fills a major gap in the documentation of the art of antiquity. She reconstructs the Fayum painters' techniques and places the portraits in a pictorial tradition extending from fourth-century B.C. Greek naturalism to Byzantine icons. We see the Fayum portraits as the product of a cosmopolitan, multiracial society of Hellenized Greeks, Romans, Syrians, Jews, Libyans and Nubians who had largely adopted the Egyptian cult of the dead. (Jan.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810933316
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/1995
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
10.00(w) x 13.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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