Donnerstag, 20.10.2022 um 18:15 Uhr

Dr. Alexis den Doncker, Basel / Liège
Ancient Egyptian Outlooks on Theban Tomb Painting: A Reception Perspective

Abstract des Referenten

The private tomb-chapels of the Theban necropolis consist of perhaps one of the richest preserved iconographic environments of New Kingdom Egypt. Their famous reliefs and paintings illustrate perfectly numerous books on ancient Egyptian art; their picturesque look owing a lot to the so-called "daily life" scenes. Another particularity of this iconographic environment – recently referred to as a picscape by Andreas Dorn – was to various extents its relatively easy accessibility, as compared to other parts of the sacred landscape surrounding the city of Thebes (i.e. divine temples, royal memorial temples and tombs). This means that, presumably, any passerby was welcome to enter a chapel and, ideally, take part in the cult of the deceased, should it be only by pronouncing an offering formula on the latter's behalf. Recent researches in ancient Egyptian art history have brought forward the rhetorical features of the chapels' decorative programmes. In this regard, they have showed how the visual representations were neatly conceived, not only as autonomous performative objects operating on the deceased's survival in the afterlife, but also as powerful agentive tools addressing well-targeted recipients, namely the beholders. As it happens, some of these visitors' reactions to images are still concretely visible on the decorated walls of the chapels. They comprise of written and figural graffiti, alterations of images (transformations, defacements, restorations, etc.) as well as replications of selected scenes or motifs in other chapels. They let us the possibility to approach the decorations from the ancient visitors' perspective as they bear witness to the way these people engaged with the images. The lecture will present some of these visitors' reactions to images with a focus on the mechanics of the related reception of these specific iconographic settings.


© Alexis den Doncker

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