This short excerpt from my lecture on the art and history of the Egyptomania phenomenon delves into its early origins. As Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, Egyptian antiquities pillaged during the Roman Empire were excavated from their slumber under Roman soil and newly erected across the city. Even before the translation of the Rosetta Stone, before Napoleon’s epic Egyptian expedition and publication of Description de l’Égypte, artists such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Louis Jean Desprez were already experimenting and defining what we would come to call Egyptomania. In the subsequent generation, academic painter Jean Léon Gérôme reveals a mature appreciation for ancient Egyptomania in his meticulous renderings of the the Roman Empire.
This extended episode takes us on an unexpected journey across the Art Institute of Chicago to explore the artistry and influences of rings. We go well beyond personal adornment and discuss the significance and many meanings of “ring” as it appears in visual culture.
Le Grenouillard (Frog-Man), 1892
Art Institute of Chicago, 2007.78
In this excerpt from my lecture on the Art Institute’s recent special exhibition Painting the Floating World: Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection, I set the stage for what was Japan’s Floating World culture during the Edo Period of the Tokugawa Shogunate, 1615-1868. We touch on the origin of the term, the cultural climate in which it rose the popularity, and how the floating world psyche was expressed in Japan’s visual arts at the time.
Hishikawa Moronobu Flower-Viewing Party with Crest-Bearing Curtain, from the series Flower Viewing at Ueno
Art Institute of Chicago, 1925.1689