1. Anschrift

Dr. Friederike Werner
Post-Doctoral Researcher
Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies
Cluster of Excellence „Asia and Europe in a Global Context“
Voßstraße 2
D - 69115 Heidelberg
Phone +49 (0) 89 529950
Mobile +49 (0) 179 7662574

Gabelsberger Straße 48F
D - 80333 München
089-529950  /  0179-7662574

2. Literaturauswahl

  • Abgekupfert, durchgepaust und second hand. Ein Essay zur Authentizität in der Kunst: wird 2013 in IBAES erscheinen; oder bereits einzusehen unter www.zum-glueck-malerei.de/vita.html
  • Ägypten als Inbegriff des Erhabenen in der Baukunst“, in: Ägyptomanie. Europäische Ägyptenimaginationen von der Antike bis heute, Schriften des Kunsthistorischen Museums Wien, hrsg. von Wilfried Seipel, Bd. 3, Wien 2000, S. 82-104
  • Ägyptenrezeption in der europäischen Architektur des 19. Jahrhunderts, phil. Diss. Heidelberg; VDG Verlag und Datenbank für Geisteswissenschaften, Weimar 1994

3. Projekte

Forms of Egyptomania in early modern Europe with reference to the collection of Aegyptiaca (MC 14.2 "Materialising Memories"), since November 2012

The reception of Egyptian objects, also known as the "Egyptian Revival" or "Egyptomania", is a phenomenon in European art based upon works with motifs of ancient Egyptian art. European interest in the culture of ancient Egypt was latently present for centuries but only appeared more prominently in European art and in the discussion of ancient cultures in the 18th century. The Napoleonic expedition to Egypt (1798-1801) ist publication caused further, lasting fascination in this field. New discoveries and literature had diverse influences on works of architecture and paintings as well as on the creation of artefacts. Egyptomania is based on the European notion of Ancient Egypt as a perfect example of a civilization of wisdom and mystery. Ancient Egypt was an ideal “projection screen” for this fascination. This led to the use and in some instances, reinterpretation of specific thematic and design elements of Egyptian art in a broad variety of European works. Every period developed its own motivation for adapting Egyptian motifs. This brings up questions regarding continuity and change of objectives and the way these objectives are expressed. Varying degrees of access to genuine Egyptian material probably had a lasting effect on the artistic process. Egyptianising elements based upon genuine ancient Egyptian artefacts need to be differentiated from “second hand” elements, which in themselves refer to Egyptianising objects. Concerning several examples of Egyptomania, the reduction in size of prototypes is especially striking: Egyptian archetypes in the form of architecture might be transformed into a piece of furniture or biscuit porcelain. Cult objects become everyday objects. This topic will be addressed in detail through various examples. In addition we will turn to literature and philosophy to examine the underlying messages of Egyptianising objects of art. What are the expectations, interpretations, themes, values and purposes that confront us? As a case study, this project focuses on the history and meaning of a table centrepiece in the Darmstadt Residenz Museum, which dates to around 1810. The centrepiece depicts an idealised projection of an Egyptian landscape. The objects are fabricated of black and gilded bronze as well as white marble and glass. Functioning as a luxurious table decoration, the centrepiece served to provide an opulent, courtly atmosphere. The centrepiece is a salient example of the “Egyptian Revival” and we aim to establish clear paths of influence on the centrepiece from publications, literature and prototypes of the 18th century and even earlier. Examples of such Egyptianising motifs on our centrepiece include the Apis bull, sitting statues, canopic jars, obelisks, griffins and lions. Why did some of these "Egyptian icons" achieve such cult status? What meanings were assigned to these motifs? How are the Egyptian motifs combined with forms and designs of European art? How are they applied, adapted, reformatted and integrated into European design? The artist of our centrepiece is yet unknown. There are no documents concerning this artefact in the State Archives of Darmstadt, nor is there any signature on the objects. To unlock its provenance, we have to compare the artefact with similar objects and designs. We will concentrate on questions about its origin and social and intellectual background, as well as the way the cross-cultural influence of Ancient Egypt is transported to Europe and expressed in our centrepiece. We may conclude with the words of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who in 1769 already shows us how artists approached working with ancient prototypes: “No one, I believe, in viewing my designs—Diverse manners of ornamenting chimneys and all other parts of houses, taken from the Egyptian, Tuscan and Grecian Architecture—will imagine that these designs, which I give to the public, are really taken from chimneys which were in use among the Egyptians … Whoever should think so would be much mistaken … What I pretend by the present design is to show what use an able architect may make of the ancient monuments by properly adapting them to our own manners and customs.”* (*Retranslated by the present author.)

4. Arbeitsschwerpunkte

  • History of art and architecture
  • Collection history
  • Egyptomania