Parallels to the Dallas Museum of Art Collections

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs and the Parallels to the Dallas Museum of Art Collections

 

The Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition displays works of art from royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings from the late 18th Dynasty (14th century B.C.). The main themes of the exhibition are Egyptian ideas of the afterlife; divine kingship; the Egyptian gods, including Pharaoh Akhenaten’s worship of the Aten sun disc; ritual objects of splendor; and the luxurious lifestyle of the ruling class in ancient Egypt, which was perpetuated in funerary art in order to ensure that the dead person lived well forever. The key role played by royal women and the importance of the family to Egyptians are also featured. These themes are paralleled in art from around the world, which can be seen in the Dallas Museum of Art collections. Giving meaning to death and the afterlife is basic to human nature. Ideas of power and divinity occur in cultures that are widely separated historically. Many other fascinating parallels to the material in the Tutankhamun exhibition can be found in the DMA’s encyclopedic collections. We indicate levels and galleries that are also listed on museum maps to help with locating these works of art.

Wreath

Classical or Hellenistic Greek

Level 1, Center for Creative Connections

Precious materials like gold were not only suitable for funerary objects but reflected belief in life after death. Such wreaths were buried with the Greek dead to symbolize victory over death.

Wreath
Classical or Hellenistic Greek
4th century B.C.
Gold
Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Funds, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., and Cecil H. and Ida M. Green in honor of Virginia Lucas Nick, 1991.75.55

Figure of a Woman

Roman

Level 2, Classical Art

Distinguished women played an important role in Egyptian society. The King Tut exhibition displays many objects, such as gilded coffins, belonging to royal women. This Roman sculpture celebrates an aristocratic Roman woman, who would have been remembered and honored by her descendants.

Figure of a woman
Roman
2nd century
Marble
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil H. Green, 1973.11

Léon Frédéric

Nature or Abundance (La Nature or Fécundité), 1897

Level 2, European Painting and Sculpture

This painting pictures an earth mother bursting with life and fertility, surrounded by children, flowers, and fruits. She is comparable to the Egyptian mother goddesses like Isis and Hathor, who also brought children and prosperity to the world.

Léon Frédéric
(Belgian, 1856–1940)
Nature or Abundance (La Nature or Fécundité), 1897
Oil on canvas
Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund, 2007.18.FA

Jackson Pollock

Portrait and a Dream

Level 2, European Painting and Sculpture

Jackson Pollock’s great abstract expressionist self-portrait blends magic and imaginative mystery in a haunting double image. The figure on the right, with its suggestion of a face, is thought to be a portrait of the artist with strong psychological suggestiveness. It also appears masklike. The image on the left seems to have feminine aspects and perhaps reflects Pollock’s subconscious longings. The idea of the self as both a mask and the magical image of the person in eternity echoes many of the ideas in Egyptian objects created for the afterlife, particularly funerary masks and deities of eternal life.

Jackson Pollock
(American, 1912–1956)
Portrait and a Dream, 1953
Oil on canvas
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1967.8
© Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Huntingdon Wine Cistern

Abraham Portal

Level 3, Decorative Arts

While the objects found in King Tut’s tomb are legendary to us, they represent the common Egyptian practice of supplying the dead person with valuable status objects, including food and drink for the afterlife. This great wine cistern is a comparable status object for an English lord.

Huntingdon Wine Cistern
Abraham Portal (English, 1726–1809)
1761–1762
Silver
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Patricia D. Beck, 2003.41

Coffin of Horankh

Egyptian

Level 3, Arts of Ancient Egypt

In Egyptian ideas of eternal life, it was believed that after death people lived physically in the afterworld as they did in this one. This coffin identifies the dead man, Horankh, with Osiris, lord of the dead; the green face suggests rebirth.

Coffin of Horankh
Egyptian
c. 700 B.C.
Wood, gesso, paint, obsidian, calcite, and bronze
Dallas Museum of Art, Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 1994.184

Head and upper torso of Seti I

Egyptian

Level 3, Arts of Ancient Egypt

The Egyptian pharaoh was considered a relation of the gods. Through the king, the gods sent blessings and prosperity to the people of Egypt. Seti, who had a long life, is shown as muscular, powerful, and, in fact, immortal.

Head and upper torso of Seti I
Egyptian
1303–1290 B.C.
Black granite
Dallas Museum of Art, purchased in honor of Betty B. Marcus with the Art Museum League Funds, the Melba Davis Whatley Fund, and the General Acquisitions Fund, 1984.50

Funerary figure (tau tau)

Indonesia

Level 3, Arts of the Pacific Islands

This ancestor figure from Indonesia exemplifies funerary rituals performed long after death, as was true of tomb art in Egypt. The elaborate effigies of the dead were fully dressed and housed in balconies cut in steep limestone cliffs, from which they looked out on their living descendants.

Funerary figure (tau tau)
Indonesia: South Sulawesi, Toraja people
19th century or earlier
Wood
Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 1980.2.McD

Sakyamuni Buddha

Thailand

Level 3, Arts of Southern Asia

This majestic figure of the founder of Buddhism, Sakyamuni, or Siddartha Gautama, is a 13th-century sculpture from Thailand. Although rare for sculptures of the Buddha, it shows him as a king, with royal jewelry. This was a special motif in Thai Buddhist art, reflecting the role of divine kings in Asia. The figure is both imposing and beneficent, with his hands raised in blessing. The sculpture is gilded, making this a fine parallel to the gilded statues in the King Tut exhibition.

Sakyamuni Buddha
Thailand: Lopburi style
c. 13th century
Bronze with gold gilding
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and Wendover Fund, 2006.21

Shiva Nataraja

India

Level 3, Arts of Southern Asia

The Hindu god Shiva presides over life, death, and rebirth, as Osiris does in Egypt. In his cosmic form as Nataraja, he dances the great rhythm of destruction and rebirth, and promises release from the endless cycle of reincarnation.

Shiva Nataraja
India
Chola dynasty, 11th century
Bronze
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2000.377

Emma-O

Japan

Level 3, Arts of Japan

Emma-O is the Japanese Buddhist form of Yama, the Hindu god of death. The chief judge of the dead, he was believed to send a dead person to one of six levels of reincarnation. Emma-O is an interesting counterpart to Egyptian ideas of Thoth, the judge of dead people, or Osiris, the lord of the dead. The sculpture has traces of the original gilding and bright lacquer, again similar to the brilliant works devoted by Egyptian artists to the afterlife.

Emma-O
Japan
Momoyama period, late 16th–early 17th century
Wood, lacquer, gold gilt, and glass
Dallas Museum of Art, Wendover Fund in memory of Alfred and Juanita Bromberg and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2008.25.a–h

Waist pendant plaque

Nigeria

Level 3, Arts of Sub-Saharan Africa

This is an African example of divine kingship. The king (oba) of Benin is shown standing, his arms raised and resting on two attendants. He stands on a head that has mud fish issuing from its nostrils; mudfish are a royal symbol associated with Olokun, the god of the sea. Like the Egyptian pharaoh, the oba brings wealth and prosperity to his people.

Janus reliquary guardian figure (mbulu viti)

Gabon

Level 3, Arts of Sub-Saharan Africa

Similar to ancient Egyptians, the Kota peoples preserved relics of their honored dead in containers. According to Kota religious belief, the extraordinary powers of influential ancestors survived after their death and could be accessed by their descendants to assure their fertility, prosperity, and general well-being. Carved from a piece of wood, this reliquary guardian figure is clad with precious copper, brass, and iron acquired through trade with Europeans. Kota reliquary guardian figures are among the most abstract depictions of the human figure in African art.

Janus reliquary guardian figure (mbulu viti)
Gabon: Franceville area, Kota people, Obama subgroup, attributed to Semangoy of Zokolunga, sculptor
Late 19th–early 20th century
Brass, copper, iron, wood, and fiber
Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2005.36.McD

Woodbury Langdon, Sarah Sherburne Langdon

John Singleton Copley

Level 4, American Art

The desire to preserve a likeness for future generations is an impulse that crosses cultures and centuries. A newly married 18th-century New Hampshire couple, Sarah and Woodbury Langdon commissioned these portraits soon after their marriage in 1767 as lasting images for their descendants. Like images in Egyptian tombs, these portraits display the sitters’ status, affluence, and power.

John Singleton Copley
(American, 1738–1815)
Woodbury Langdon, 1767
Oil on canvas
Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 1996.70.1.McD

John Singleton Copley
(American, 1738–1815)
Sarah Sherburne Langdon, 1767
Oil on canvas
Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 1996.70.2.McD