In ancient Egypt, Ba was the name given to an immaterial manifestation of a mummified human which flew away after death but always returned, bringing light and nourishment. Like the Ba, the ghost of ancient Egypt haunts the collective memory in an eternal return and by reflecting itself in the changing mirror of history. Immortal Egypt is a series of international workshops devoted to the way artists looked at the land of the pharaohs – before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone which marked the birth of modern Egyptology – and how their artworks have mirrored Egypt through the ages.
These workshops, held in London, Rome and Paris, will question the complex interactions between continuity, discontinuity, survival and rebirth by employing the tools of art history, visual anthropology and the history of ideas. Participants will reflect on the heritage of a strange, complex, changing, close and distant Antiquity, as well as on the creative processes that have ensured its posterity. We adopt a novel approach lying at the crossroads between Egyptology and Egyptomania, a term we use in the global sense of interest in Egypt. Archaeologists and art historians will trace interrelated themes, identifying the metamorphoses and anamorphoses of ægyptiaca and considering its realisation in different artistic media and modalities of artistic expression at multiple scales. Crossing reversing the many paths of creative process, we will explore an Egypt that is less a place than an idea, less a historically determined reality than a figure of cultural memory. Egypt as it has been artistically re-imagined is a land both without geographical confines and without temporal limits, since its origins lie in a bygone past, back to the beginning of the world.
This triptych of workshops will take place in three prestigious institutions – the Warburg Institute (2-3 March), the Bibliotheca Hertziana (13-14 April), the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (1-2 June) – in three cities whose history is particularly linked to Egypt. Each of them represents a facet of the prism of European receptions of ægyptiaca and their iconic and cultural circulation, as well as the multiple forms taken by their reproduction.
We will contribute to the understanding of these "figures of memory" along with their mutations and ramifications by offering an overview of the history of the representation of Egypt in Europe – a history of illuminating knowledge, of magical beliefs, of antiquarian mania and of political greatness which has a prominent place in the history of Western civilisation.
Luisa Capodieci is Associated Professor in Early Modern Art History at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She has written many essays on symbolic and magical images in France and Italy during the 16th century and the book Medicæa Medæa. Art, astres et pouvoir à la cour de Catherine de Médicis (2011). Her book L’œil de Rê. Visions de l’Égypte dans l’art profane de la Renaissance entre France et Italie, to be published in 2023, is the result of the researches she carried thanks to the Warburg Institute’s Frances Yates Long Term Fellowship.
Laurent Bricault, Ph.D. (Paris-Sorbonne 1994), is Professor of Roman History at Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès and senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. Well known in the domain of Isis and Mithraic studies, he is the author of numerous books and articles and has recently published Isis Pelagia: Images, Names and Cults of a Goddess of the Seas (Leiden, 2020) and Les cultes de Mithra dans l’empire romain (Toulouse 2021).
PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS AN IN-PERSON EVENT AND WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR ONLINE ACCESS.