Survival

Egyptian art curator Dorothea Arnold marvels at the survival and preservation of cultural artifacts in today's culture of obsolesence.

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As we live today, we constantly throw things away, so it is even more astonishing that things survive.

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  • Dorothea Arnold
    1280852
  • A Royal Hand  |  New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c.  |  Egyptian  |  Limestone, traces of paint  |  Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.1)
    12781024
  • Seated woman with tattoos  |  Predynastic, Naqada II, ca. 3650–3300 b.c.  |  Egypt, Northern Upper Egypt, Naqada  |  Clay plaster, resinous organic material, paint, malachite  |  Rogers Fund, 1907 (07.228.71)
    6161024
  • Linen shirt  |  New Kingdom, Early Dynasty 18, reign of Thutmose II–Early Joint reign, ca. 1492–1473 b.c.  |  Egyptian  |  Linen  |  Rogers Fund, 1936 (36.3.54)
    1280961
  • Fresco wall painting in a cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale  |  ca. 40–30 b.c.; Late Republican  |  Roman  |  Plaster  |  Rogers Fund, 1903 (03.14.13)
    10241024
  • Smashed statuary of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut as discovered by Metropolitan Museum of Art excavators in an ancient quarry northeast of her temple at Deir el-Bahri, Thebes, Luxor. The statuary was removed from the temple and destroyed on the command of her nephew and successor Thutmose III in ca. 1439 b.c.  |  Photographed by Harry Burton, Winter 1926–27.
    1280914
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art curators and Egyptian coworkers reassembling the smashed statues of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut.  |  Photographed by Harry Burton, February 15, 1929.
    1280948
  • Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshepsut  |  New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, Joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, ca. 1473–1458 b.c.  |  Egyptian  |  Granite  |  Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.3.1)
    5001024
  • Sleeping Boy  |  ca. 1774  |  Philippe-Laurent Roland (French)  |  French (modeled in Rome)  |  Terracotta, painted white  |  Wrightsman Fund, 1990 (1990.206)
    7861024
  • Aristotle with a Bust of Homer  |  1653  |  Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)
    9771024
  • Juan de Pareja (born about 1610, died 1670)  |  1650  |  Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Purchase, Fletcher and Rogers Funds, and Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), by exchange, supplemented by gifts from friends of the Museum, 1971 (1971.86)
    8851024
  • Mummy of the Chief Treasurer Ukhhotep  |  Dynasty 12 (ca. 1991–1786 b.c.)  |  Egyptian; From Meir  |  Wood, gold leaf, Egyptian alabaster, obsidian, and various organic materials  |  Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.182.132)
    1280853
  • Bark Painting  |  1940–50s  |  Ingura people, Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory, Australia  |  Bark, paint  |  The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1462)
    1280823
  • Marble statue of the Three Graces  |  2nd century a.d.; Roman  |  Marble  |  Purchase, Philodoroi, Lila Acheson Wallace, Mary and Michael Jaharis, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Leon Levy Foundation, The Robert A. and Renée E. Belfer Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Moran, Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation and Nicholas S. Zoullas Gifts, 2010 (2010.260)
    11681024
  • The Judgment of Paris  |  possibly ca. 1528  |  Lucas Cranach the Elder (German)  |  Oil on wood  |  Rogers Fund, 1928 (28.221)
    7181024
  • [The Pyramids and the Sphinx]  |  1860s–70s, printed ca. 1870  |  Félix Bonfils (French)  |  Albumen silver print  |  Gift of Daniel Wolf, in memory of Diane Wolf, 1976 (1976.561.2)
    1280969
  • Sphinx of Hatshepsut  |  New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Hatshepsut, ca. 1473–1458 b.c.  |  Egyptian  |  Red granite with traces of blue and yellow paint  |  Rogers Fund, 1931 (31.3.166)
    12701024
  • The Angel of Death and the Sculptor from the Milmore Memorial  |  1889–93; this carving, 1921–26  |  Daniel Chester French (American)  |  Marble  |  Gift of a group of Museum trustees, 1926 (26.120)
    9201024
  • The Angel of Death and the Sculptor from the Milmore Memorial  |  1889–93; this carving, 1921–26  |  Daniel Chester French (American)  |  Marble  |  Gift of a group of Museum trustees, 1926 (26.120)
    11301024
  • The Angel of Death and the Sculptor from the Milmore Memorial  |  1889–93; this carving, 1921–26  |  Daniel Chester French (American)  |  Marble  |  Gift of a group of Museum trustees, 1926 (26.120)
    9511024
  • Dorothea Arnold
    1280852
  • I'm Dorothea Arnold from the department of Egyptian art at the Metropolitan Museum.

  • As we live today, we constantly throw things away, so it is even more astonishing that things survive.

  • Since I'm dealing a lot with objects that are at least three thousand and even then four thousand and five thousand years old the question, "how does all this survive?" comes up again and again. "How could it survive for so long?"

  • Textiles that are in such prime condition that you could use them for your bedding. And this is only possible because of the very dry climate in Egypt.

  • Natural disasters like Pompeii which was covered by the eruption, then excavated. And this beautiful bed chamber is in a condition almost like it must have been when people used it.

  • If there was human destruction like in the case of the female pharoah Hatshepsut

  • whose sculpture was completely smashed on the commission of her successor, thrown into a quarry for several centuries

  • discovered and painstakingly reassembled.

  • Or there is the famous piece in the attic. The piece that has been neglected, and that somebody comes, sees what it is, and it comes back to light.

  • Another important cause is that pieces go from generation to generation. So for instance this famous painting by Rembrandt was originally commissioned by somebody from the Rufo family in Messina in Sicily, and went then from generation to the next generation to the next generation.

  • And for a museum especially many, many collectors are involved in the survival of the works of art that we see here.

  • There is one item in this history: people. There must have been people who preserved bodies in ancient Egypt. Wrapped them up, adorned them, put them into coffins. So this kind of pious treating was absolutely necessary.

  • But it's not only the physical pieces that survive, there's something important and that is the survival of the images. Images have a tenacity that is quite astonishing.

  • For centuries the original Three Graces has been lost. What we have are copies from Roman times and then when these sculptures were found in Renaissance Italy and around the Mediterranean

  • there was a new revival of appreciations by the use of that image.

  • The Sphinx as an image became almost a symbol of ancient Egypt and so it became a symbol of ancient Egyptian thinking.

  • This superhuman being was a kind of sign of survival through time.

  • This memorial was for a very young dying sculptor

  • and you see what he was sculpting was a sphinx. Here we have the survival of the Egyptian sphinx image into the nineteenth-century.

  • Because it is the sign of the Egyptian deep thinking about death and about survival. So this is a very good example that an image has suddenly that power and spreads and just doesn't

  • die.

  • 1985.328.1
    A Royal Hand, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c., Egyptian, Limestone, traces of paint Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.1)
  • 07.228.71
    Seated woman with tattoos, Predynastic, Naqada II, ca. 3650–3300 b.c., Egypt, Northern Upper Egypt, Naqada, Clay plaster, resinous organic material, paint, malachite Rogers Fund, 1907 (07.228.71)
  • 36.3.54
    Linen shirt, New Kingdom, Early Dynasty 18, reign of Thutmose II–Early Joint reign, ca. 1492–1473 b.c., Egyptian, Linen Rogers Fund, 1936 (36.3.54)
  • 03.14.13a-g
    Fresco wall painting in a cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, ca. 40–30 b.c.; Late Republican, Roman, Plaster Rogers Fund, 1903 (03.14.13)
  • 30.3.1_v001
    Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshepsut, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, Joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, ca. 1473–1458 b.c., Egyptian, Granite Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.3.1)
  • 1990.206
    Sleeping Boy, ca. 1774, Philippe-Laurent Roland (French), French (modeled in Rome), Terracotta, painted white Wrightsman Fund, 1990 (1990.206)
  • 61.198
    Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch), Oil on canvas Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)
  • 1971.86
    Juan de Pareja (born about 1610, died 1670), 1650, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish), Oil on canvas Purchase, Fletcher and Rogers Funds, and Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), by exchange, supplemented by gifts from friends of the Museum, 1971 (1971.86)
  • 12.182.132
    Mummy of the Chief Treasurer Ukhhotep, Dynasty 12 (ca. 1991–1786 b.c.), Egyptian; From Meir, Wood, gold leaf, Egyptian alabaster, obsidian, and various organic materials Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.182.132)
  • 1979.206.1462
    Bark Painting, 1940–50s, Ingura people, Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory, Australia, Bark, paint The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1462)
  • 2010.260
    Marble statue of the Three Graces, 2nd century a.d.; Roman, Marble Purchase, Philodoroi, Lila Acheson Wallace, Mary and Michael Jaharis, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Leon Levy Foundation, The Robert A. and Renée E. Belfer Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Moran, Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation and Nicholas S. Zoullas Gifts, 2010 (2010.260)
  • 28.221
    The Judgment of Paris, possibly ca. 1528, Lucas Cranach the Elder (German), Oil on wood Rogers Fund, 1928 (28.221)
  • 1976.561.2
    [The Pyramids and the Sphinx], 1860s–70s, printed ca. 1870, Félix Bonfils (French), Albumen silver print Gift of Daniel Wolf, in memory of Diane Wolf, 1976 (1976.561.2)
  • 31.3.166
    Sphinx of Hatshepsut, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Hatshepsut, ca. 1473–1458 b.c., Egyptian, Red granite with traces of blue and yellow paint Rogers Fund, 1931 (31.3.166)
  • 26.120
    The Angel of Death and the Sculptor from the Milmore Memorial, 1889–93; this carving, 1921–26, Daniel Chester French (American), Marble Gift of a group of Museum trustees, 1926 (26.120)
  • A Royal Hand, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c., Egyptian, Limestone, traces of paint Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.1)
    Seated woman with tattoos, Predynastic, Naqada II, ca. 3650–3300 b.c., Egypt, Northern Upper Egypt, Naqada, Clay plaster, resinous organic material, paint, malachite Rogers Fund, 1907 (07.228.71)
    Linen shirt, New Kingdom, Early Dynasty 18, reign of Thutmose II–Early Joint reign, ca. 1492–1473 b.c., Egyptian, Linen Rogers Fund, 1936 (36.3.54)
    Fresco wall painting in a cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, ca. 40–30 b.c.; Late Republican, Roman, Plaster Rogers Fund, 1903 (03.14.13)
    Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshepsut, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, Joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, ca. 1473–1458 b.c., Egyptian, Granite Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.3.1)
    Sleeping Boy, ca. 1774, Philippe-Laurent Roland (French), French (modeled in Rome), Terracotta, painted white Wrightsman Fund, 1990 (1990.206)
    Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653, Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch), Oil on canvas Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)
    Juan de Pareja (born about 1610, died 1670), 1650, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish), Oil on canvas Purchase, Fletcher and Rogers Funds, and Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), by exchange, supplemented by gifts from friends of the Museum, 1971 (1971.86)
    Mummy of the Chief Treasurer Ukhhotep, Dynasty 12 (ca. 1991–1786 b.c.), Egyptian; From Meir, Wood, gold leaf, Egyptian alabaster, obsidian, and various organic materials Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.182.132)
    Bark Painting, 1940–50s, Ingura people, Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory, Australia, Bark, paint The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1462)
    Marble statue of the Three Graces, 2nd century a.d.; Roman, Marble Purchase, Philodoroi, Lila Acheson Wallace, Mary and Michael Jaharis, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Leon Levy Foundation, The Robert A. and Renée E. Belfer Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Moran, Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation and Nicholas S. Zoullas Gifts, 2010 (2010.260)
    The Judgment of Paris, possibly ca. 1528, Lucas Cranach the Elder (German), Oil on wood Rogers Fund, 1928 (28.221)
    [The Pyramids and the Sphinx], 1860s–70s, printed ca. 1870, Félix Bonfils (French), Albumen silver print Gift of Daniel Wolf, in memory of Diane Wolf, 1976 (1976.561.2)
    Sphinx of Hatshepsut, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Hatshepsut, ca. 1473–1458 b.c., Egyptian, Red granite with traces of blue and yellow paint Rogers Fund, 1931 (31.3.166)
    The Angel of Death and the Sculptor from the Milmore Memorial, 1889–93; this carving, 1921–26, Daniel Chester French (American), Marble Gift of a group of Museum trustees, 1926 (26.120)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    A Royal Hand
    New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c.
    Egyptian
    Limestone, traces of paint
    Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.1)
    On view: Gallery 121
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    Seated woman with tattoos
    Predynastic, Naqada II, ca. 3650–3300 b.c.
    Egypt, Northern Upper Egypt, Naqada
    Clay plaster, resinous organic material, paint, malachite
    Rogers Fund, 1907 (07.228.71)
    Not on view
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    Linen shirt
    New Kingdom, Early Dynasty 18, reign of Thutmose II–Early Joint reign, ca. 1492–1473 b.c.
    Egyptian
    Linen
    Rogers Fund, 1936 (36.3.54)
    On view: Gallery 116
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    Fresco wall painting in a cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale
    ca. 40–30 b.c.; Late Republican
    Roman
    Plaster
    Rogers Fund, 1903 (03.14.13)
    On view: Gallery 165
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    Large Kneeling Statue of Hatshepsut
    New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, Joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, ca. 1473–1458 b.c.
    Egyptian
    Granite
    Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.3.1)
    On view: Gallery 115
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    Sleeping Boy
    ca. 1774
    Philippe-Laurent Roland (French)
    French (modeled in Rome)
    Terracotta, painted white
    Wrightsman Fund, 1990 (1990.206)
    On view: Gallery 552
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    Aristotle with a Bust of Homer
    1653
    Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch)
    Oil on canvas
    Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)
    On view: Gallery 637
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Juan de Pareja (born about 1610, died 1670)
    1650
    Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Spanish)
    Oil on canvas
    Purchase, Fletcher and Rogers Funds, and Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), by exchange, supplemented by gifts from friends of the Museum, 1971 (1971.86)
    On view: Gallery 610
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Mummy of the Chief Treasurer Ukhhotep
    Dynasty 12 (ca. 1991–1786 b.c.)
    Egyptian; From Meir
    Wood, gold leaf, Egyptian alabaster, obsidian, and various organic materials
    Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.182.132)
    On view: Gallery 112
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    Bark Painting
    1940–50s
    Ingura people, Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory, Australia
    Bark, paint
    The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1462)
    On view: Gallery 354
    Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the AmericasFirst Floor
    Marble statue of the Three Graces
    2nd century a.d.; Roman
    Marble
    Purchase, Philodoroi, Lila Acheson Wallace, Mary and Michael Jaharis, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, Leon Levy Foundation, The Robert A. and Renée E. Belfer Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Moran, Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation and Nicholas S. Zoullas Gifts, 2010 (2010.260)
    On view: Gallery 162
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    The Judgment of Paris
    possibly ca. 1528
    Lucas Cranach the Elder (German)
    Oil on wood
    Rogers Fund, 1928 (28.221)
    On view: Gallery 643
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    [The Pyramids and the Sphinx]
    1860s–70s, printed ca. 1870
    Félix Bonfils (French)
    Albumen silver print
    Gift of Daniel Wolf, in memory of Diane Wolf, 1976 (1976.561.2)
    Not on view
    PhotographsSecond Floor
    Sphinx of Hatshepsut
    New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Hatshepsut, ca. 1473–1458 b.c.
    Egyptian
    Red granite with traces of blue and yellow paint
    Rogers Fund, 1931 (31.3.166)
    On view: Gallery 131
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    The Angel of Death and the Sculptor from the Milmore Memorial
    1889–93; this carving, 1921–26
    Daniel Chester French (American)
    Marble
    Gift of a group of Museum trustees, 1926 (26.120)
    On view: Gallery 700
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors

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