30 October 2012

Egyptian Revival and Autumnal East at Home

The Egyptian Revival was a design style which itself was revived twice in the twentieth century and is characteristically elegant and mysterious. It often uses humble materials but it alludes to treasures of the east, earlier gods and goddesses, and exotic luxury. With the Napoleonic Wars entire buildings in Europe begun to be built to resemble those of ancient Egypt and jewellery and domestic object were designed with reference to Egyptian art.

1920s Egyptian Revival Brooch from Gillian Horsup

But real enthusiasm for the style arrived in England with Admiral Nelson’s defeat of Napoleon at the battle of the Nile. Napoleon took a scientific expedition with him to Egypt which described in a book all things Egyptian. It inspired everything from tea sets to jewellery. In the twentieth century the Egyptian Revival craze took hold with mass manufacturing and the historic events of Carter’s archaeological discoveries of Tutankhamen’s tomb.

French Silver & Onyx drop earrings from Linda Bee

Pharaonic Faces with Czechoslovakian glass in form of Scarabs from Linda Bee

On November 1922 Carter’s excavation team found the steps leading to Tutankhamen’s tomb by far the best preserved pharaonic tomb and masses of treasures found in the Valley of the Kings. It caused a sensation back home. In 1972 a major exhibition of Tutanhamun’s treasures in the British Museum had an overwhelming public response. Both revival periods created a proliferation of wonderful objects - some of the finest examples of which can be found here at Grays.

Egyptian Revival brooch with unusual colour glass centrepiece from Gillian Horsup

Brooches -  top French Silver Amethyst, French Silver Scarab and French Silver Cat all  from Linda Bee

Egyptian style cuff from Sian Salter

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