Beneath the wintry skies of 2024 at NGV International, a mesmerizing portal to the timeless realm of ancient Egypt is set to unfold. Nestled within its bluestone walls, an exhibition of unparalleled magnitude, “Pharaoh”, beckons with the allure of three thousand years of art and culture transported to our modern existence. As if teleported from the sands of time, this monumental showcase, curated in an exclusive collaboration between the British Museum and the National Gallery of Victoria, emerges as the pièce de résistance of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces® series.
With a span from the 1st Dynasty to the Roman era, “Pharaoh” is a celestial odyssey through the lives, myths, and images of the mighty rulers of ancient Egypt. Over 500 artefacts on loan from the venerable British Museum breathe life into this captivating narrative. At its heart stands the Pharaoh, the divine sovereign who once wielded supreme power over the land of the Nile.
The exhibit is a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of the ancient Egyptians, showcasing their ability to transform raw materials into timeless masterpieces. The meticulously carved Head of Tuthmose III, an image synonymous with royalty, exudes a magnetic pull. Meanwhile, the diminutive yet potent ivory label depicting King Den of the 1st Dynasty unveils the ancient pharaoh’s iconic pose that transcended millennia.
Ramses II, the prolific king known for his monumental constructions, materializes in a larger-than-life limestone statue, offering a glimpse into the grandeur of his reign. And then there’s the Seated statue of Pharaoh Sety II, a marvel of Egyptian sculptors’ unrivalled artistry, beckoning with its exquisite craftsmanship.
For those who dare to venture further, the exhibit will unveil the grandeur and scale of ancient Egypt through towering statues and architectural wonders. A massive limestone wall from an Old Kingdom mastaba tomb, adorned with hieroglyphic texts, stands as a testament to the reverence for the pharaohs. The colossal stone fist, once part of Ramses II’s statue, resonates with the awe-inspiring power of these ancient rulers.
However, the grandeur of ancient Egypt isn’t limited to towering monuments; it extends to the artifice of jewellery and adornment. A treasure trove of necklaces, collars, girdles, and rings crafted from precious metals and gems reveals the sophistication of Egyptian jewellery makers. These works of art not only adorned the living but also played a vital role in protecting the souls of the departed.
The exhibition brings to life the lives of craftsmen in the Valley of the Kings, offering glimpses of their daily existence through personal objects, including inscribed fragments and artistic sketches. Here, artistry meets humanity in an evocative display.
For families and the young at heart, a children’s gallery offers engaging hands-on activities, making the art and culture of ancient Egypt accessible to all. And for those seeking an evening of cultural enchantment, NGV Friday Nights, running throughout the exhibition, promise unforgettable experiences.
Visit the exhibition from June 14 to October 6, 2024, as NGV International on St Kilda Road, Melbourne, becomes the epicentre of an ancient Egyptian revival. Step into the world of Pharaoh and witness the timeless legacy of a civilization that has fascinated and enchanted generations. Admission fees apply.
Tickets and information are available via the NGV website: NGV.MELBOURNE.
“Pharaoh seeks to introduce a new generation of visitors to the perennially fascinating visual culture of ancient Egypt through an unprecedented exhibition of sculpture, architecture, jewellery, and more.”
Tony Ellwood AM, NGV Director
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