12 April 2018

Last Chance: Egypt Uncovered - Belzoni and the Tomb of Pharaoh Seti I at Sir John Soane's Museum

The sarcophagus (a box-like funeral receptacle for a corpse) of Pharaoh Seti I is the most treasured object within the Sir John Soane’s Museum’s collection in the Sepulchral Chamber, and, according to exhibition curator Joanna Tinworth, “one of the most important objects ever found in Egypt”. 

To coincide with the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I by circus strongman-turned-Egyptologist, Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823), the Soane presents an exhibition about its journey to the museum and its discoverer.

Jan Adam Kruseman, Portrait of Giovanni Belzoni, “the Great Belzoni,” 1824

Seti I’s strong military experience played a major role during his 13 year reign (BC 1291-1278) and is considered by Egyptologists the greatest pharaoh of the New Kingdom. The craftsmanship of his sarcophagus, elaborately carved in white alabaster, took even Belzoni aback, ‘being such as we had no idea it could exist’. 

It was purchased by John Soane in 1824 and became the centrepiece of his collection around which ‘sarcophagus parties’ were held for London’s elite. Guests were invited to view the sarcophagus in the evening lit by lamplight, and illuminated from within. The design of the lighting was supervised by Soane himself, contrasting light and shadow to create an atmosphere thick with romance and melancholy.

Sarcophagus of King Seti 1, discovered by Belzoni in 1817

With the emergence of important ancient tombs from the nineteenth century onwards, an "Egyptian revival" was born, making Egyptian motifs and imagery all the rage. It was reignited again when King Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in 1922, when its influence could be seen in architecture and fashion. 

At Grays we have a wonderful selection of Egyptian revival jewellery from this period, here's just a small example of what our dealers have on offer.. 

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Tings Jewellery Box

Egyptian revival locket, offered by Tings Jewellery Box


Vintage Egyptian revival bangle, available from Arabella Bianco

Egypt Uncovered: Belzoni and the Tomb of Pharaoh Seti I will run until April 14.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...