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The Legendary Fayum Portraits on Display in Amsterdam Until May

Ancient Egypt Art Exhibition Fayoum Portraits mummy
The Legendary Fayum Portraits on Display in Amsterdam Until May
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Cairo 360
Image via The Collector

There’s no question about it: our ancestors have left us a huge and unmatched legacy. Surprising us every day, Egyptologists find hidden artefacts all over Egypt with which to grace the modern world every once in a while. The Fayum Portraits, also known as mummy portraits, are no exception. Receiving worldwide popularity and attention, some of the rare, remarkable Fayum portraits are exhibited in Amsterdam in the Face to Face: The People Behind the Mummy Portraits art exhibition, which took off in October of 2023 and runs until the 20th of May.

A little flashback—or a series of flashbacks—would take us to the grand Roman period in Egypt from the 1st to the 4th century AD, when Egypt was functioning as an active and booming Roman province. If you observe everything that went on during that time period, you would immediately take note of a particular kind of art style, particularly portraits, which we now know as Fayum Portraits.

Image via Alliard Pierson

Often painted on wooden panels and sometimes on linen, Fayum portraits were originally made to be placed on top of mummified bodies, which explains why they are, to this day, more vivid than ever. Little did the skilled Fayumi artists know then that their portraits would travel the world instead of living their assigned and intended sedentary lifestyle. From Amsterdam to New York, these portraits are scattered all over the world, with only one of them in Fayum’s Kom Oshim Museum.

Portrait of the Boy Eutyches, Retrieved from The MET 

But what’s so special about the mummy portraits, you might ask? Essentially, they’re currently the blueprint for realistic portraiture, inspiring artists for centuries and decades. Pairing Greco-Roman art with Egyptian funerary practices, the mummy portraits showcase the meticulous skills of ancient Egyptians who employed art methodologies that closely resemble contemporary methodologies. Needless to say, these mummy portraits are nothing short of legendary, progressive, and pioneering.

The Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam’s Face to Face: The People Behind the Mummy Portraits exhibition boasts and charts the history of our beloved portraits, offering “face-to-face” time with them. The first exhibition about ancient Egyptian mummy portraits in Amsterdam, Face to Face: The People Behind the Mummy Portraits places the portraits in the spotlight, allowing a diverse range of visitors, not just artists, to admire and reflect on the greatness of Egyptian art.

Image via Facebook