Lion Cub, ca. 3100–2900 B.C. Egypt, Dynasty 1.
Quartzite; L. 23.4 x H. 12 x W. 12.5 cm (9 3/16 x 4 3/4 x 4 15/16 in.).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Fletcher Fund and The Guide Foundation Inc. Gift, 1966 (66.99.2)
Image from www.metmuseum.org
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art
The exhibition includes depictions of landscapes painted on vessels, objects in the form of different animals—grouped by habitat (river, air, or desert)—and humans. Animals occur frequently in early Egyptian art, and the exhibition is particularly rich in images of hippos and crocodiles, turtles, and fish; antelopes, cattle, elephants, baboons, lions, and canids; ostriches, ducks, and falcons; and scorpions and snakes.
Depictions of humans are of two types: realistic figurines in bone or ivory that depict the entire human body; and abstracted forms in clay, mud, ivory, or stone in which the figures often lack arms, have missing or poorly formed legs, or have beak-like faces that emphasize the nose. All figurines have attributes that identify their gender clearly. Evidence indicates that some figurines were made to represent a specific activity and that their position in tombs was not arbitrary.
"The Predynastic and Early Dynastic period was a time of great creativity, before the ‘typically Egyptian’ forms became codified", explains exhibition organizer Diana Craig Patch. "Yet, because of the rarity of these objects and lack of inscriptions, we cannot always explain what they meant to the early Egyptians.”
"The Dawn of Egyptian Art" is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue by the exhibition’s curator, with essays by Renée Friedman, Ann Macy Roth, Marianne Eaton-Krauss, and David P. Silverman.