Tueday, May 27, 2008

"One Last Day at the Met"

I woke early and started some packing. It's raining outside. I'm ready to go home. I wanna go home. I miss Julia. I wanna see my pictures. I've taken an additional day off just to rest. I wanna go home.


The rain quit around 9:30am. I got ready leisurely for my last outing, and arrived at the museum around 10:30am. Yes! The 12-17th dynasty sections that had been roped off were open. No! I did not find that 12th dynasty relief with Set, even though I searched very thoroughly. They'd redone this area. All of Hatshepsut's statuary was together in one room.

Large statue of kneeling Hatshepsut
Dynasty 18, reign of Hatshepsut (1478-1458 BC)
Red granite. 112 1/4 x 30 x 57 1/2 inches

The jewelery displays have been changed, too.

Pectoral with the Name of Senwosret II, and Necklace of Sithathoryunet
ca. 1897–1878 B.C.E.; Dynasty 12, reigns of Senwosret II–Amenemhat III; Middle Kingdom
Gold, carnelian, lapis lazuli, turquoise, feldspar, garnet; width of pectoral 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm)
Purchase, Rogers Fund and Henry Walters Gift, 1916, MMA 16.1.3
Necklace, MMA 16.1.4

The redone rooms are very light and spacious.

After giving the Egyptian area the last look-over, I headed up to the ancient Near East section and that Cypriot area. Yes, there were some lovely pieces there:

Head of a ruler
Arsenical copper, Iran (?) 2300-3200 B.C
Rogers Fund, 1947, 47.100.80
(from the info card):
"Although there has been much debate about where and when this magnificent head was made, its close resemblance to an important bronze head of the late third millenium B.C., found at Nineveh, suggests a similar date. The headdress seems related to Elamite works of southwestern Iran, which may indicate an Iranian origin for the person represented. Indeed, the heavy-lidded eyes, prominent but unexaggerated nose, full lips and enlarged ears all suggest that this is a unique example of a portrait."

Plaques: winged creatures approaching stylized trees, Neo-Assyrian; 8th–7th century B.C.
Iran, Kurdistan
Purchase, Ann and George Blumenthal Fund, 1954 (54.3.5 and 62.78.1a, b)
(from website info:
"In 1947 a treasure was reputedly found at a mound near the village of Ziwiye in northwestern Iran. Objects attributed to Ziwiye are stylistically similar to Assyrian art of the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. as well as to the art of contemporary Syria, Urartu, and Scythia. Many objects of gold, silver, bronze, ivory, and ceramic have since appeared on the antiquities market with the provenance of Ziwiye, although there is no way to verify this identification.

"This plaque, perforated around the edge, was perhaps once attached to a garment of a wealthy lord or to the shroud of a prince. Its design is similar to contemporary art of Assyria, Urartu, and Scythian-style objects. The plaque was originally composed of seven registers decorated in repoussé and chasing; two were separated and are now in the collection of the Archaeological Museum, Tehran. The registers display the familiar composite creatures of the ancient Near East striding in groups of three toward a stylized sacred tree, the central motif. The human-headed, winged lion, seen in the first and third register, is a creature that also appears as a gate guardian on the doorjambs in the palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud. A sphinx struts along the second band, followed by winged lions and an ibex. The bodies of the fantastic creatures are composed of unusual combinations of animal and bird parts: in the uppermost register, the lions sport ostrich tails, while in the second, their tails are those of scorpions. The trees of life bear pomegranates, pine cones, and lotus flowers. Each scene is framed and separated by a delicate guilloche pattern."

Of course I took notice of how the ancient Near East was inspired by Egypt:

Plaque with two winged sphinxes, each trampling a fallen Asiatic
Ivory, Northern Mesopotamia, excavated at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu),
Fort Shalmaneser, Room SW 37, Neo-Assyrian period, Phoenician style, 9th-7th century B.C.
Rogers Fund, 1961, 61.197.8

The info card says they are sphinxes, but they are not sitting, so I think they're really griffins. But what is interesting is that they have the head of the Egyptian god Horus. As Horus is represented by a falcon, he wears his wings well.

Horus isn't the only Egyptian deity to make appearances in the ancient near east:

Limestone stele (shaft) with the head of Hathor
Cypriot, Archaid, 2nd quarter of the 6th century, B.C.
Said to be from the necropolis at Golgoi
The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1873-76 (74.51.2475)

(from info card):
"The lower part of the shaft has been cut off: two dowel holes on the upper surface permitted an additional element to be fastened. Stone shafts incorporating the head of the Egyptian goddess Hathor occur particularily often at Amathus. Their appearance may be connected with the adventof Egyptian rule over the island. They played a role in the cult of the Great Goddess of Cyprus who, like Hathor, afforded protection against death and harm. The shafts also occur in funerary contexts."

The following piece features a well sculpted portrait:

Head of a beardless royal attendant, possibly a eunuch
Alabaster (gypsum), traces of red paint
Mesopotamia, Khorsabad (ancient Dur-Sharrukin), Palace of Sargon II
Neo-Assyrian period, 721-705 B.C.
Giftof John D. Rockefeller Jr, 1933 33.16.2

(from info card):
"This head depicts an Assyrian male but one who lacks a beard and mustache. Some scholars believe that this distinction indicates that the figure is one of the eunuchs who made up a special category of courtiers within the Assyrian royal family."

Oh, I rather suspect he didn't have 'elective surgery', but hopefully he fared better than some.

I'll close with this exquisite piece:

Vessel terminating in the forepart of a fantastic leonine creature, Achaemenid; 5th century B.C.
Iran, Gold; H. 17 cm
Fletcher Fund, 1954 (54.3.3)

(from info card):
"This gold vessel probably belonged to an Achaemenid king. Its manufacture, in which several parts were invisibly joined by soldering, demonstrates superb technical skill and artistic mastery."

(from website info):
"Horn-shaped vessels ending in an animal's head have a long history in the Near East as well as in Greece and Italy. Early Iranian examples are straight, with the cup and animal head in the same plane. Later, in the Achaemenid period, the head, or animal protome, was often placed at a right angle to the cup, as in this piece. In the manufacture of this gold vessel, several parts were invisibly joined by brazing, which demonstrates superb technical skill. One hundred and thirty-six feet of twisted wire decorate the upper band of the vessel in forty-four even rows, and the roof of the lion's mouth is raised in tiny ribs. Typical of Achaemenid style, the ferocity of the snarling lion has been tempered and restrained by decorative convention. The lion has a crest running down his back; his mane has the disciplined appearance of a woven material; and his flanks are covered by an ostrich plume. The inclusion of the plume, a departure from convention, suggests that this lion is winged and has some supernatural significance."

By the time I'd made the rounds of the ancient Near East section, it was close to three o'clock and the tuna sandwich I'd had for breakfast was long ago used up. I must have gotten on the wrong route to the cafetera. It was like a maze and in every room I had to have the guard point me in the right direction. I chose a simple pasta with tomato sauce, along with more of that delicious squash, and the carrot juice.

After I finished that, it was near 3:30pm. The news had forecasted a thunderstorm around 4:00pm. I wanted to avoid the deluge and my feet hurt wickedly. It's possible for such tromping, my Birkies aren't the best, and I should have hiking boots or at least soles with a softer give to them.

Anyway, it was time to say farewell to the Met. So I headed back to the hotel, saying farewell to the subway. I've just now gotten familiarily with it, and don't turn the wrong way walking like I did at first.

After an iced tea at the café near the hotel, I turned in for a short nap. Then I looked at my photos, 739 of them. There's still some room, as the D.C. trip filled the card completely at about a hundred more. I could tell from the thumbnails view that a great many turned out clearly.

I'm happy. I'm pleased, I had a wonderful time. And now I'm glad to be going home tomorrow.

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