A spectacular exhibition dedicated to the reign of Amenophis III is currently delighting crowds in Paris. On show at the French capital's Grand Palais, the exhibition Amenophis III, The Sun Pharaoh, is the culmination of eight years work dedicated to collecting together under one roof many of the artistic representations of this important pharaoh's reign.
More than 150 individual objects have been accumulated from museums and private collections around the world. Although not as instantly resplendent as the gold and precious stones we associate with Tutankhamun's tomb treasures, the Amenophis III exhibition is none the less impressive. The beauty of ancient Egypt flows from each majestic sculptured granite stone head and every tiny but exquisite cosmetic spoon on display.
Following the military successes of his predecessors, the reign of Amenophis III from 1391 to 1353 BC, pharaoh of the XVIIIth dynasty, represents a long period a peace and harmony. For 38 years the pharaoh undertook a colossal artistic project throughout the length and breadth of his empire, from the Nile delta up to Sudan. He decorated the temples with artwork and statues of sizes and numbers hitherto unequalled. He also favoured the use of art for diplomatic and commercial uses. Under his direction pottery, ceramics, glassware and jewellery making all flourished.
The Paris exhibition includes some fascinating and remarkable items which allow us to reflect on the grandeur of court life during Amenophis III's reign. Despite the crowds that have flocked into Paris's Grand Palais, the splendor of the pharaoh's period pervades the atmosphere. Two large sphinxs open a perspective on the colossal pink granite head of Amenophis III himself. The strength of the stone blending, yet at the same time contrasting, with the sensuality of the sculpture.
Queen Ty, the favorite wife of Amenophis, is well represented at the exhibition. A delicate yellow jasper head, on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of New York reveals an elegant beauty with an air of haughty mystery. Examples of Queen Ty's jewellery and personal items, such as her cosmetic spoons help us detached impression of "the great Royal wife", as she is referred to in hieroglyphic accounts of the period of Amenophis III.
Objects of daily use, unguent pots, vases, glassware and the like help complete the picture of life at the time. The glass objects on show in Paris are particularly impressive. Glassware, at that time, was...