Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Egyptian Faience

Faience-bead broadcollar necklace from the reign of Akhenaten - 18th Dynasty 
Image courtesy of: http://www.flickriver.com/

The ancient Egyptians were known for their love of vibrant colours - remnants of pigments can still be discerned in crevices of ancient statuary as well as on inaccessible parts of temples such as the uppermost parts of walls and pillars - and that love of colour is evident in personal items such as jewellery, protective amulets and funerary items known as ushabti, those figures placed in tombs specifically to carry out the deceased's wishes and instructions in the afterlife, thereby sparing the person the necessity of having to perform the tasks of labour for themselves.
Engraved faience bead from the reign of Amenhotep III
Image courtesy of: http://www.ganoksin.com/

Named "tjehnet" by the ancient Egyptians - meaning that which is scintillating or brilliant - faience is a glass-like, non-clay based ceramic substance dating back at least 5,000 years in history, consisting of common materials abundantly found in Egypt: ground quartz or sand with small amounts of calcite lime, crushed quartz pebbles, flint, a soluble salt-like baking soda and ground copper. The dried, pale and essentially colourless objects were placed into kilns and fired; the vitrified end-product emerged as a lustrous object in what is called "Egyptian blue." To the Egyptians, who deduced meaning in virtually everything around them, faience or tjehnet symbolized rebirth, with objects harbouring the eternal light of the heavenly bodies: stars, moon and the sun; it was associated with the colour of the sky, abode of the gods. In the 26th Dynasty (the Saite Period), referred to as the Egyptian Renaissance period, another particularly popular coloured glaze - green - was produced, the hue of which evoked the regenerative waters of the life-producing Nile and its surrounding verdant landscapes. (Source: miniatureancientart.com, undated)

New Kingdom Sphinx of Amenhotep III, 18th Dynasty - ca. 1390-1352 BCE
The above two images are courtesy of: http://www.metmuseum.org

It not being made of clay, it is ascribed as Egyptian faience to distinguish it from regular faience, tin-glazed pottery which is ordinarily associated with Faenza, produced in northern Italy. The popularity of faience in Egypt was its practical purpose of reproducing (and substituting for) the favoured colours of such costly gemstones as lapis-lazuli imported from Afghanistan and turquoise, mined in the Sinai peninsula. (Source: encyclopeida.thefreedictionary.com, 2010)

Its manufacture and affordability probably meant that most people were able to not only possess molded and magically inscripted objects associated with the (protective powers and colours of) gods, but also objects made for personal adornment such as beaded jewellery - necklaces and rings - or beaded, multi-coloured broadcollars and pectorals.

Faience and carnelian bead necklace - ca. I BC-IV AD
Image courtesy of: http://www.ancienttouch.com/

Sketch of a faience-bead collar from the Amarna Period - ca. 1379-1362 BCE

Patterned on organic collars originally made of lotus flowers, petals, cornflowers, dates and lotus-seed pods, these faience collars - less expensive to produce than those made with real gemstones - were often  bestowed as gifts to banquet and/or wedding guests.
Image courtesy of: http://www.ezakwantu.com

Amulet of Isis suckling Horus - Ptolemaic Period, ca. 304-30 BCE

Amulet of the goddess Taweret, protectress of pregnant women 
Ptolemaic Period, ca. 304-30 BCE 
A lotiform cup - 22nd Dynasty, ca. 945-715 BCE

Statuette of a hippopotamus, painted with river plants, 12th Dynasty - ca. 1981-1885 BCE
The four images above are courtesy of: http://www.metmuseum.org
This monumental sceptre is the largest known example of Egyptian faience - ca. 1427-1400 BCE
Symbolic of power, this sceptre was found in fragments in a temple 

Eye of Horus amulet, symbol of power and protection - ca. 1075-945 BCE
The above two images are courtesy of: http://www.vam.ac.uk

The sacred Eye of Horus amulet

An amulet of Thoth as a sacred ibis and Maat
Ca., 664-332 BCE

Amulet of Sekhmet enthroned, ca. 6th-4th century BCE
The above two images are courtesy of: http://miniaturesinancientart.com/

Ushabti - Lady of Sati, New Kingdom, ca. 1390-1352 BCE

Ushabti made for Psamtik, 26th Dynasty - ca. 570-526 BCE
Image courtesy of: http://www.safani.com/

Scarab faience ring
Image courtesy of: http://www.trocadero.com

Scarabs from the Annenberg collection

Scarab with separate wings, 25th-30th Dynasty - ca. 712-342 BCE

Winged scarab, 23rd-25th Dynasty
The three images above are courtesy of: http://user.adme.in

Pectoral of Senusret II, 12th Dynasty - ca. 1897-1878 BCE
Found in the tomb of his daughter, Sit-Hathor Yunet - a mixture of precious materials and faience
Image courtesy of: http://www.ishtarsgate.com

Tutankhamun's Udjat Eye (Eye of Horus) pectoral
Image courtesy of: http://www.touregypt.net

Tutankhamun's pectoral, late 18th Dynasty - ca. 1550-1292 BCE
Image courtesy of: http://user.adme.in/

Tutankhamun's Kheper Scarab pectoral
Image courtesy of: http://www.touregypt.net

With the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb on November 26th, 1922, a new craze for Egyptian decorative designs was ignited. Prestigious jewellery houses, such as Cartier, launched closely-based designs strongly influenced by ancient artifacts or, in some instances, cleverly refashioned ancient fragments - such as scarabs, for instance - into modern jewellery.

Mrs. Cole Porter's Scarab buckle-brooch - Cartier, 1924

Suggested readings:

Egyptian Faience: The First High-Tech Ceramic (1987), by Pamela B. Vandiver: American Ceramic Society

Egyptian Faience and Glass (1993), by Paul T. Nicholson: Shire

Gifts of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Faience (1998), by Florence D. Friedman, Georgina Borromeo & Rhode Island School of Design: Thames & Hudson

Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum (2001), by Edna R. Russman, Thomas G. Henry James & The British Museum: University of California Press

Friday, 26 November 2010

American Master: The Sculptural Art of Paul H. Manship

Paul Howard Manship

Image courtesy of: http://www.liveinternet.ru

He is widely considered to be one of the most influential and premiere American sculptors of the 20th century, and even though is name may not be immediately recognizable or spring to one's mind, several of his classically-inspired works certainly are. This is particularly true of some of his most familiar, large public commissions such as the gilded, 18-foot-high figure of the Titan Prometheus (1933), prominently situated at the centre of the Rockefeller Plaza courtyard. Likewise, of the many honours he received during his life in recognition of his work, his membership into the French Legion of Honour and his election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters were perhaps his greatest approbations. (Source: askart.com, 2010).

Prometheus - Rockefeller Center, 1933
Image courtesy of: http://picasaweb.google.com/

AE medal - 1918
Images above are courtesy of: http://ansmagazine.com/

Paul Howard Manship, the great American sculptor, was born in St. Paul's Minnesota on December 25th, 1885. Manship studied at the St. Paul Institute of Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and, in 1909, he won the Prix de Rome for which he received a scholarship to study at the American Academy in Rome (1909-1911) where he took an interest in ancient sculpture. But prior to his travels to Italy, Manship arrived in New York City in 1905, where he apprenticed at the studios of George Bridgman and Jo Davidson, experts in human anatomy and portrait sculpting. (arthistoryguide.com, undated; britannica.com, undated)

It was during his years in Europe that Manship traveled extensively - especially through Italy and Greece - and developed a deep affinity for the highly disciplined aesthetic principles of Archaic Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian and Minoan art and sculpture. These ancient cultures would become a continual source of inspiration for Manship throughout his artistic career, continually drawing upon mythological themes and figures for his subject matter. He expertly learned to synthesise the traditions and aesthetics of classical sculpture with his own to create a thoroughly modern aesthetic uniquely his own; his works have since become the epitomic examples of the Art Deco style in America, to where he returned in 1912. (Source: britannica.com, undated; artfact.com, 2006).





Decorative frieze panels of The Four Elements commissioned for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company,
New York - 1914
The above four images are courtesy of: http://nibiryukov.narod.ru/

In 1921, Manship worked in England at the studio of John Singer Sargent and  from 1922-1926, Manship lived in Paris. In the late 1920s, his friend, the architect Eric Gugler, brought back to America a glass-etched constellation sphere from his travels through Germany. Inspired by this celestial sphere, Manship endeavoured to learn, through independent research, all he can about astronomy. He purposefully sought authorities in the field in order to create his own, scientifically accurate globe of the constellation. He further enhanced his knowledge through stargazing and by visiting New York's Hayden Planetarium; with his creatively artistic mind, his fascination was with the mythology and mythological figures of the heavens. (Source: askart.com, 2010, artfact.com, 2006)

Centaur and Dryad - 1913
Image courtesy of: http://www.tfaoi.com/

During his lifetime, Paul Manship produced over 700 works of art, and in his heyday of the 1920s and 1930s, employed many assistants - two of whom, Gaston Lachaise and Leo Friedlander went on to become artists in their own rights -  in several studios to fulfill the innumerable commissions he received. In 1966, Manship died at the age of 80 in New York City. (Source: askart.com, 2010)

Dancer and Gazelles - 1916

Spring - 1949

Maenad - 1953
The above three images are courtesy of: http://www.artnet.com/

Models of Night sculpture for the 1939-40 World's Fair
Photograph by Margaret Bourke-White, 1939 - Life Magazine

Paul Manship with models of sundial sculpture for the 1939-40 World's Fair
Photograph by Margaret Bourke-White, 1939 - Life Magazine
The two images above are courtesy of: http://images.google.com/

Time and the Fates of Man Sundial - 1938
Image courtesy of: http://www.artlex.com/

Time and the Fates of Man - World's Fair, 1939

The two images above are courtesy of: http://www.pmphoto.to/

Playfulness - 1912
Image courtesy of: http://www.kiarts.org/

Pronghorn Antelope (companion of Indian Hunter below) - 1914
Image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/

Indian Hunter - 1914

Little Brother - 1912-14

Salomé - 1915

Flight of Night - 1916

Atalanta - 1921

Flight of Europa - 1925

Indian Hunter with his Dog - 1926

Actaeon - 1924

Diana - 1924

Evening - 1938

Mankind Figures "Maiden" - 1933
Rockefeller Center

Mankind Figures "Youth" - 1933
Rockefeller Center

Abraham Lincoln the Hoosier Youth - 1929

General Robert E. Lee - 1936
The above fifteen images are courtesy of: http://www.liveinternet.ru/

Diana - (companion to Actaeon) 1924

Actaeon - (companion to Diana) 1924
The two images above are courtesy of: http://www.art-conservation.org/

Society of Medalists, Dionysus - 1930
Image courtesy of: http://ansmagazine.com/

Spear Thrower - 1921
Image courtesy of: http://blog.seattlepi.com/

Seals of the U.S., New York State: Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority - 1956

John F. Kennedy Inaugural Medal - 1961
Medal for the Art Director's Club in New York
(The medal is awarded annually in recognition of excellence in the field of advertising, graphic design, illustration and photography.)
The two images above are courtesy of: http://americanart.si.edu/

Lying Doe - 1932
Image courtesy of: http://www.christies.com

Pair of candelabra - 1927

The Rainey Memorial Gates - the Bronx Zoo
Erected in 1934 in memory of Paul Rainey

To commemorate Paul Rainey who passed away at sea in 1923, his sister, Grace Rainey Rogers, commissioned Paul Manship in 1926 to create the Rainey Memorial Gates at the Bronx Zoo, erected in 1934. (Scheier, J., 2006).

The Rainey Memorial Gates - detail

The Rainey Memorial Gates - detail

Group of Bears - 1932 

Group of Bears - detail

Group of Bears - detail

Group of Bears - detail
The above eight images are courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/

The Lehman Gates, Central Park's Children's Zoo

Opened in 1961, the gates for the Lehman Children's Zoo were donated by Governor and Mrs. Herbert Lehman in commemoration of their 50th wedding anniversary. The theme of the gates are singing and dancing boys and animals. The central figure is that of a dancing boy flanked by goats on either side of him; two other boys, positioned on the end posts, provide the playful music on panpipes. Manship has also included birds in between the figures, who appear to have just alighted upon the gate's vegetal curlicue vine. (Source: centralparknyc.org, 2010; nycgovparks.org, 2010) 

The Lehman Gates - detail
Image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/

Detail of boy playing the panpipe - The Lehman Gates

World War I Aero Memorial - 1950
Image courtesy of: http://www.philart.net/

Anne and Eric Gugler - 1932
Image courtesy of: http://americanart.si.edu/

Recommended reading:

Paul Manship: Changing Taste in America (1985), by Dayton Art Institute & Hudson River Museum: Minnesota Museum of Art

Drawings by Paul Manship: The Minnesota Museum of Art Collection (1987), by Carol H. Smith & Minnesota Museum of Art: The Museum

Paul Manship (1989), by Paul Manship & Harry Rand: The Smithsonian Institution Press

Archaism, Modernism, and the Art of Paul Manship (1993), by Susan Rather: University of Texas Press