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"Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen"
1999-11-13 until 2000-02-06
Museum of Fine Art, Boston
Boston, MA, USA United States of America

Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamen, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston where it premieres on November 14, 1999, is one of the most important international presentations of Egyptian art and culture in recent decades. This exhibition illustrates the tantalizing and revolutionary epoch known as the Amarna Age (1353 to 1334 B.C.) when the Pharaoh Akhenaten assumed the throne of Egypt at its peak of imperial glory. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston “reconstructs” the Amarna Age and the vanished city of Amarna through more than 300 pieces of sculpture, reliefs, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, tools and furniture— many never before on public display in the United States. This combination of objects (from more than 35 museums and private collections around the world) allows visitors to journey into a short, but culturally prolific moment of world history.

During the reign of Akhenaten, there were radical changes in art, as a new artistic vocabulary accompanied the King’s new religion. Ageless, idealized images which had characterized Egyptian art for the previous 1500 years gave way to more tender and less formalistic images of the human form. These changes, which were unconventional and probably shocking to some Egyptians at the time, can be seen in such objects as the Family Stela from the Egyptisches Museum in Berlin, Germany, which shows the royal family playing with their children, or the sensuous Torso of Nefertiti from Musee du Louvre, Paris, France. Artists at this time also redefined the imagery of kingship as can be seen in Relief of Akhenaten from the National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland. This relief represents a new exaggerated style, featuring an elongated face, slit like eyes and a pendant chin. Akhenaten left an artistic legacy which may be seen in splendid images of Tutankhamen—including the wonderful Head of Tutankhamen from the Metropolitan Museum in New York—and his successors.

Visitors also experience the city of Amarna itself. Along with exquisite objects, the exhibition features the latest archaeological information the site has yielded, including a 20’ long model of the city, reproductions of wall and floor paintings, and a video-walk through of the ancient city combining satellite imagery and aerial photography.


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