Gift from sister-in-law. Portfolio Egyptian Art in the Brooklyn Museum collection.

Box front.

Egyptian collection Brooklyn Museum book cover
Box back showing the 24 photographic plates

Egyptian collection Brooklyn Museum book back
Note from Brenda. Touch'n, in'nit? I just now figured out how she signed her card. Her middle initial is J, which I know from the label on the envelope. She's writing Brenda J. Carebear, which is an improvement over what I first thought -- Hairbrain.

Note from Brenda, gift: Egyptian collection Brooklyn Museum book cover
Okay, here's the thing. I'm well familiar with the Egyptian collection at the Brooklyn Museum, but my family doesn't know that. It's impossible for them to know what I already know and what I've already possessed at one time or another. Egyptian-related books that catch their eye are inevitably written as introductions, say, King Tut, or Ramses II, or how the pyramids were built, what the gods represented, whatever, so usually their Egyptian-related gifts fall within a category of things I understood very well when I was in my teens. Bless their hearts. All of these photographic plates are exceedingly well-known and appear over and over and over again in books on Egyptian art. Look at them closely and you'll undoubtedly recognize at least half of them yourself. But one of the plates in particular jumped out at me, however, because it cast me back to a decade past. A very close woman friend showed me a book she bought at Brooklyn Museum gift shop a few years earlier. I fell in love with her book and drooled over the pages of photographic plates, much larger than these, pouring over each one. It is simply the most outstanding photographic essay on the subject I've seen. The whole thing totally got me and still does. At the time she said of all the masterpieces there was only one she really liked above all the others. It was one piece of lesser importance, a portion of a fresco depicting a noble woman named Tjepu discovered in tomb 181 at Thebes. I told Tony (she spells her name with a Y not an I) that I could replicate the fresco exactly with ease. She didn't believe me. Dared me, in fact, challenged my braggadocio. That night I poured a plaster using modeling clay to shape the sheet exactly as the fragment, included a wire on the back for hanging, and the next day drafted and painted the surface. My copy was precise right down to the smudges, chips and scratches. I used the grid method to transpose the image from the book's copy to my own, a technique I learned at age ten, the same technique used by the Egyptians themselves to replicate a composition worked out on papyrus onto irregular walls of different proportions. Then lightly antiqued the finished plaster and presented it to Tony. Tony was so stunned with the gift, she gave me the book in gratitude, which I still treasure, as I'll treasure this. That was the first painting I did. So many people saw that painting, a shard of plaster, that I ended up selling over 40-some subsequent paintings properly mounted and framed as legitimate museum pieces.

Lady Tjepu

Lady Tjepu Brooklyn Museum Egyptian collection

No comments: