The exhibition „Beyond the Nile“ shows the cultural interchange between ancient Egypt and Greece and Rome

Hippopotamus, 2nd century, Roman, Rosso antico, Object: H: 77 x W: 120 x D: 38 cm (30 5/16 x 47 1/4 x 14 15/16 in.) Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Photo: Ole Haupt

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles looks through the works of art from 2000 BC to AD 300 to see how these so different cultures affected each other

„Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World“ at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles through September 9, 2018, examines the cultural and artistic connections between Greece, Rome, and the most ancient of the Mediterranean civilizations, Egypt. It provides a comprehensive overview – spanning more than two thousand years from 2000 BC to AD 300 – of Egypt’s interactions with the classical world in ancient Greece and Rome. „It is an unprecedented compilation of works of art from the Bronze Age to the late Roman Empire, drawn from the major museums of Europe and America, as well as the Getty’s own collection, said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and one of the curators of the exhibition.

„From trade, exchange, and artistic borrowings to diplomacy, immigration, and warfare, the cultures, and histories of these two civilizations were intimately intertwined for millennia. The monuments and art that resulted provide spectacular evidence of how profoundly these so different cultures affected each other, and indeed the global culture we share today.”

Head of a man, unknown artist about 100–75 B.C., Egyptian, Ptolemaic, Siltstone, Object: H: 24.2 x W: 20 x D: 23.1 cm (9 1/2 x 7 7/8 x 9 1/8 in.). The Trustees of the British Museum.

In the Bronze Age, Egypt traded with the Minoans of Crete and the Mycenaeans of mainland Greece, and the exhibition will highlight diplomatic gifts and trade goods from this era. From the Archaic and Classical periods, the presence of Greeks in Egypt as mercenaries and traders is attested through various trends. Small Egyptian objects were imported to Greece and copied locally. Greek sculptors of the 7th and 6th centuries BC were inspired to carve their first large stone figures after seeing the millennia-old tradition of monumental sculpture in Egypt. Myths with Egypt themes were depicted on Greek vases.

After Alexander’s conquest of Egypt in 332 BC, Egypt came under control of a Greek dynasty – the Ptolemies – that would rule the land for nearly 300 years. The exhibition will explore the complex hybrid culture that existed in Egypt under Ptolemaic kings and queens, especially developments in private and royal portraiture, including portraits of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony.

The Green Caesar, unknown artist, 1st century B.C.–1st century A.D., Roman, Green slate, Object: H: 44 x W: 26 x D: 25 cm (17 5/16 x 10 1/4 x 9 13/16 in.). Source: bpk Bildagentur / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz / Art Resource, NY

With the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC, Egypt became a Roman province. The exhibition explores in depth the connection between art and identity in Roman Egypt, as well as the Roman fashion for Egyptian imagery, and the spread of Egyptian cults throughout the Roman Empire. This section of the exhibition will include stone sculptures that were exported in antiquity from Egypt to Italy, and Egyptian-influenced art made in Italy, including sculpture, frescoes, and luxury items decorated with Egyptian deities and exotic views of the Nile.

Obelisk honoring Emperor Domitian and Isis, on view
in the Entrance Hall of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Roman, granite, AD 88–89, Benevento, Museo del Sannio, 1916. Photo: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018

As part of the exhibition, visitors to the Getty Center will be greeted by a towering granite obelisk in the Museum Entrance Hall. This obelisk, carved in 88-89 A.D and dedicated, according to its hieroglyphic inscription, to the goddess Isis and the emperor Domitian, stands at more than 15 feet tall. It comes to the Getty from the Museo del Sannio in Benevento, Italy, and, like many objects in the exhibition, is a Roman work inspired by Egyptian art. The Getty Museum has partnered with the Museo del Sannio and the Provincia di Benevento to conserve and study the work while it is in Los Angeles.

„Beyond the Nile“ will be the first in a series of exhibitions at the Getty Museum under the theme of The Classical World in Context, that explore relationships between the Classical world and the surrounding civilizations of the Mediterranean and Near East.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

„Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World“ at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles through September 9, 2018

(05.06.2018, USA: 06.05.2018)