The second episode of Alastair Sooke's series about the art of Ancient Egypt covered the Middle Kingdom (briefly) and most of the New Kingdom. He only picked a couple of objects from the Middle Kingdom - both from Senusret III's reign. He gave the impression that this is because the New Kingdom was the Golden Age, which is true in some ways, but the Egyptians themselves looked back at the Middle Kingdom as their "classical age" where art and culture first achieved great heights.
There's a new series just started called Treasures of Ancient Egypt, so of course we're watching it not long after it airs (the day after, actually, but because of the way I've scheduled my blog posts this post has gone live 8 days after). The series is presented by Alastair Sooke, and is similar in format to the Treasures of Ancient Rome series that he did a while ago (post).
The second of the two talks we went to at the British Museum Members' Open Evening the other week was about the small exhibition of Zoroastrian and related pieces that has recently opened at the BM. This is in some ways a related exhibition to the larger Zoroastrian exhibition at SOAS which finishes soon (we went to see it the other day so I shall be writing that up soon). In this post I'm going to talk about both the exhibition and the curator's talk.rather than split them into separate posts.
A couple of weeks ago we had a day out in London visiting the British Museum. During the day we mainly went to see their El Dorado exhibition (which I'll write up later) and in the evening we went to two gallery talks at the Members' Open Evening (one of which is what I'm talking about here, the other one will be tomorrow). My photos related to both these talks are up on flickr here.
She Wolves: England's Early Queens is a series we've had sitting on the PVR for a while now - it's presented by Helen Castor who has written a book with the same title & premise. She's looking at the history of seven Queens of England, in medieval & Tudor times. Some of these Queens ruled in their own right, some were wives of Kings but all of them exercised power. The second episode will be about the woman who was actually referred to as a she wolf, none of them were entirely popular with their subjects.
The third & last episode of Treasures of Ancient Rome was about the art during the declining years of the Roman Empire. Alastair Sooke opened by explaining that the canonical view is that the art of this period is poor & gets worse over time because the Empire is falling to bits. He sets out to show in this episode that this isn't true - the art style might change but it's no less good than what came before.
We seemed to go through a phase of only ever discovering TV series after the first episode had already aired, so there's a few things on our PVR waiting for episode 1 to be repeated. Treasures of Ancient Rome is one of these, and we decided just to watch the other two episodes anyway and come back to the first if we get hold of it. The series premise is Alastair Sooke talking about the art of Ancient Rome, putting it in its historical context.
J. M. W. Turner was born in 1775, at the end of the Age of Sail, and lived until 1851 at which point the Industrial Revolution was in full swing. During his life he often painted the machinery and scenes of the new industry. The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution was part a biography of the man and part a look at some of his key paintings.
The British Museum's current large exhibition is about Ice Age Art, and we went to see it earlier this month (just before we went away on holiday in fact, which is why the delay in writing about it :) ).