|Zita Johann as Ankhesenamon|
Patricia Velasquez as Anck-Su-Namun in The Mummy, 1999
Egyptomania ran rampant after the expeditions that eventually led to the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by the archaeologist Howard Carter. The revival during the 1920s is sometimes considered to be part of the art deco decorative arts style. However, Egyptian Revival was not a new concept. "The first major Egyptian Revival period was after Napoleon's campaigns in Egypt (1798-99) and the subsequent occupation by the British. During this time, Europeans became fascinated with the ancient Egyptian architecture and furniture. Egyptian ornamentation like scarab beetles, sphinxes, winged lions and lotuses, often with gilding, were applied to modern forms to create the hybrid style referred to as "Egyptian Revival". excerpt by Grace Hummel on ebay buying guides.
|Victorian Tour Group|
Tourism in Egypt
"In the 1820s, the encyclopedic Description de l'Égypte, compiled by the scholars who had accompanied Napoleon's expedition, brought the monuments and people of the Nile to the European public. In the 1840s, steamships made travel to Egypt convenient, bringing tourists there and unleashing a flood of travel books eagerly read by those who could not afford the journey. Finally, in 1922, King Tut's tomb and its treasure were discovered. These events brought Egypt to the masses, and the masses to Egypt, fueling Egyptomania." Bob Brier, Egyptologist
Cruises down the Nile and tours led by Egyptian guides became quite popular. Old photos show hoards of people climbing over these landmarks, something that would never be done today. Source for Left photo c.1900; Right photo, L'Egypte avant les touristes - Le Sphinx en 1850.
Early Fancy Dress Costume Parties and Balls
"Modern interpretations of Egyptian costume have an air that is dashing and bizarre; in reality the Egyptians were conservative in costume as in all else." -- Mary McAlister, "Ancient Costume and Modern Fashion," Art and Archaeology 15, April 1923
Above left, the Hon. Mrs. Algernon Bourke, Devonshire House Ball, July 2, 1897. Above right, Lady Paget 1899. Read about her Here
Left, Princess Henry of Pless, also as Cleopatra (or possibly the Queen of Sheba), at the Duchess of Devonshire’s Diamond Jubilee Costume Ball, July 2, 1897 source
Above, fashion plates with Egyptian fancy dress costumes. Right, my favorite 1920's detective, Miss Phryne Fisher, partying as Cleopatra. Esse Davis -Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
Left 1923 and Center 1932 from the Met Museum. Right 1923 Bradley's Chepstow Place, London.
Above Center, 1930s Lamé Dress Egyptian Revival Gown by PenniesLondon Above Right, Robe du soir, 1923. Catalog drouot
Left, applique embroidered Egyptian silk coat, late 1920s, unlabelled. Made for the elite tourist trade, these silk coats were popular purchases on the Grand Tour. Below Left, 1926 beautiful beaded gown, US Library of Congress
Accessories/Jewelry "The Egyptian Revival in the 1920s major contributions were to the jewelry world, combining the streamlined geometric of Art Deco with ancient motifs for a fairly modern flair. Many pieces of jewelry were produced during this time period, most notably are Pharaoh's heads, Queen Nefertiti, scarabs, winged sun disks, snakes, lotus blossoms, hieroglyphic writing and pyramids. The jewelry was made in precious metals like gold, platinum and silver as well as pieces made of lesser compositions of brass, white metal, pewter and glass. Most of these pieces were further enhanced with polychrome enameling, precious and semi precious stones, glass and celluloid." excerpt by Grace Hummel on ebay buying guides
Above -Art DECO Neiger brooch Egyptian Revival pin Czech 1920s
Below left- Vintagejewelrylane.com Below right - Rubylane.com
Above left - 1920s art deco beaded purse. ebay.com
Below left - 1920s beaded bag with Sphinx and lotus. celluloid frame. tumblr.com
Below center - Tania enameled watch 1925. Below right - Stahel Zurich 1920s Heritage Auctions
Left, Gold, enamel and scarab brooch, c.1880 from Sothbys. Center, Tadema Gallery. Right, gem set scarab brooch, circa 1900. Emeralds, sapphires, pearls, rubies and diamonds. prices4antiques.com
Beauty Products "Just before the 1920s began, the perfume companies started producing perfumes, cosmetics and powder boxes with Egyptian motifs or figures, which were one way for the average woman to bring some of the exotic into her boudoir." excerpt by Grace Hummel on ebay buying guides
Images below from Google Search and Ebay
Songs From the 1920s came some of the best dance tunes. One of my favorites is Egyptian Ella. Listen Here to an actual 1931 recording of the song, set to a slide show of photos from Egypt. (youtube)
Theater and Cinema
There were countless stage productions centering around Cleopatra, which carried over into silent movies of the 1920s and beyond. Lillie Langtry portrayed her in 1890. Source
Left, Constance Collier in a 1907 stage production. Center, Theda Bara in the 1917 silent film. Right, Helena Modjeska as Cleopatra in 1879
Claudette Colbert in 1934 and Vivien Leigh in 1945. There were many more Cleos in addition to these lovely ladies.
But what about the gentlemen? Left, Rudolph Valentino in "The Sheik" 1921. Right, Victor Mature in "The Egyptian" 1954 I googled movie stills.
Yul Brynner in the "Ten Commandments"1956
"The Loves of Pharaoh" 1922 silent movie from Denmark
Boris Karloff "The Mummy" 1932
The 70's brought us the Agatha Christie movie "Death on the Nile" and Steve Martin sang about "King Tut". In the 80s we were taught how to "Walk Like an Egyptian" by the Bangles. The 90s brought us hunky Brendan Fraser in the Mummy movies.
I am glad to see Egyptomania has not completely died out. How many of you have been here recently?