Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh

Erin Garcia
Assistant Director of Communications
tel: 415.750.8904 cell: 510.364.1304
Maureen Keefe
Director of Marketing and Communications
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Major Exhibition Debuts at Opening of New de Young

de Young
15 October 2005-5 February 2006


San Francisco, 27 July 2005--Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh opens in San Francisco as the major inaugural exhibition at the new de Young museum and as the premiere showing of this landmark exhibition, which will be on view in only two additional venues: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. The fascinating display highlights the art that was created during the glorious reign of the enigmatic and intriguing female pharaoh Hatshepsut, who shared Egypt’s throne for nearly two decades (ca. 1473-1458 BC) in the early New Kingdom as senior co-ruler with her young nephew, Tuthmosis III.

Hatshepsut’s reign was a period of immense artistic creativity. This unprecedented exhibition brings together a vast treasure trove of almost 300 objects that includes royal statuary and relief, monumental sculpture representing members of the royal court, a wide variety of ceremonial objects, finely crafted decorative objects, dazzling gold jewelry, and other exquisite personal items, all of which both tell the compelling story of Hatshepsut’s reign and reveal the diverse and sophisticated artistic production of her time.

Lenders to the Exhibition
The spectacular objects that have been lent for Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh were culled from an august body of international institutions by the exhibition’s organizers, Dr. Renée Dreyfus, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Curator of Ancient Art and Interpretation and Dr. Catharine H. Roehrig of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in consultation with Dr. Cathleen A. Keller of the University of California, Berkeley.

The lending institutions include--in addition to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has lent approximately one-third of the works on view--The British Museum, The National Museums of Scotland, the Louvre, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, The Fitzwilliam Museum, (Cambridge), the Kestner Museum (Hanover), the Field Museum (Chicago), and the Museo Egizio, Torino. In addition, several signal objects have been lent by the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Hatshepsut: Woman of Many Aspects
The phenomenon of a woman ruling a fundamentally patriarchal society while surrounded by male courtiers and advisors, the eventual destruction of Hatshepsut’s monuments by Tuthmosis III, and the omission of her name from later king lists have fueled debate among Egyptologists for over a century. Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh presents the changing interpretations of the woman who, at about the age of 20, claimed the full powers of the throne upon the death of her husband, Tuthmosis II, who was also her half-brother, and gradually assumed the title of “King” and the trappings of kingship in addition to the queenly titles that she already held.

Under an unusual line of succession, she and Tuthmosis III, who was the son of Hatshepsut’s husband, but by a lesser queen, effectively shared the throne of Egypt as two kings for a period of almost 20 years. Hatshepsut’s metamorphosis from a queen into a king took place gradually and appears to have gone through a series of exploratory phases. Her monuments depict her both as a woman and as a man, in king’s regalia, including a strapped-on false beard. As Egypt’s two Horuses, Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III, 13 years her junior, frequently appeared together on monuments as “twin” male rulers distinguished only by the position of their cartouches--with Hatshepsut usually taking precedence--or occasionally by their regalia.

Although her reign defied long-established convention, it was accepted by her people and Egypt flourished, as seen through the superb and innovative art and architecture of her prosperous and largely peaceful rule. About 20 years after Hatshepsut’s death, however, her name and her image were systematically obliterated, her kingly monuments were destroyed, and she was forgotten.

Highlights of the Exhibition
The exhibition is rich in standout objects ranging in scale from monumental sculptures to delicate gold jewelry and finely detailed scarabs, seals and figurines. Colossal sculptures in the main hall of the exhibition reveal the majesty of Hatshepsut as king. These include one of the six extant massive granite sphinxes depicting Hatshepsut as a lion, a colossal kneeling figure of Hatshepsut holding small offering jars, and an enormous striding figure of her. There are also smaller stone figures of Hatshepsut as well as three large painted limestone reliefs from her mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri, which depict marching soldiers. In addition, there are a number of stone figures of Senemut, one of the most eminent and influential officials of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Also of particular interest is the granite False-Door Stela of Tuthmosis I, an object that was the ritual focus of his offering cult. A gallery devoted to Tuthmosis III when he assumed sole reign after Hatshepsut’s death displays sculpture that attests to the greatness he achieved during his long reign, such as a powerful, majestic nearly life-size standing figure carved in greywacke. Among the many surviving statues of this king, the one on view in the exhibition best conveys the impression of a personal likeness.

Other stone objects of a smaller scale include varying sizes of luminous, alabaster vessels and unguent jars. Some of them are beautifully inscribed, others have gold-rimmed bases and lids, and many of them still retain traces of their original contents.

There are a number of remarkably well-preserved wooden decorative arts and personal objects in the exhibition. Highlights of these pieces include a royal wooden bed inlaid with cobras of sheet gold, a wood and ivory--which was as highly prized as gold--chair, and small wooden boxes and a gaming board of wood and ivory, as well as a wood and silver staff. Among the leather objects are a painting of a woman playing a harp while a man enthusiastically dances,

A wide array of personal items reflects the taste, luxury, and craftsmanship of the times, such as a pair sandals made of gold, whose design is startlingly contemporary. There is an abundance of dazzling gold, silver, lapis, carnelian, cloisonné, and faience and semi-precious stone jewelry in the exhibition. A particularly magnificent necklace, the Horus Collar, is a hammered sheet of gold decorated with a falcon-headed clasp. A glimpse of daily life as led by royalty in the Eighteenth Dynasty is provided by intimate items such as cosmetic boxes and spoons, bronze mirrors, tweezers and a razor, a wood, ivory, and copper kohl tube, wooden hairpins, and gold finger and toe stalls, which were used for funerary trappings.

Finally, other objects bespeak of everyday life of the Eighteenth Dynasty. These include such items as colorful faience bowls, delightful figure vases, ceremonial weapons, and model tools that were placed as foundation deposits at Deir el-Bahri.

Organization and Credit
The exhibition has been organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities, and by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency.

Catalogue
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with worldwide distribution through Yale University Press. Co-editors Dr. Renée Dreyfus, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Dr. Cathleen Keller, University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Catharine Roehrig, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will also provide substantial contributions to the publication, along with a number of other top scholars in the field. 600 pages, 450 color illustrations and 100 black and white illustrations and images; hardcover $75, paperback, $50

Venues
de Young, San Francisco, 15 October 2005-5 February 2006
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 21 March-9 July 2006
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 27 August-10 December 2006

Audio Tour for Adults and for Children
Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh is accompanied by an Antenna Audio tour for both adults and children that explores the fascinating stories behind many of the objects on view. The audio tour includes commentary by exhibition co-curators Dr. Renée Dreyfus, Fine Arts Museums’ Curator of Ancient Art and Interpretation, Dr. Catharine H. Roehrig of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as Professor Cathleen A. Keller of the University of California, Berkeley. It traces Hatshepsut’s emergence as co-regent of Egypt and continues with insights into her rule, her predecessors, and the continuing mystery of her exclusion from subsequent king lists in ancient Egypt. The tour explores the context and artistry of monumental statues of Hatshepsut and others, as well as many delicate, rare, and highly refined objects of daily and ceremonial use, such as jewelry, toiletries, and furnishings, which help bring the era to life. A musical score interwoven into the audio tour evokes the time and place, helping to provide visitors with an immersive experience.

Admission Fees and Ticket Information
There is a $5 surcharge for Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh. Prices are $15 adults; $12 seniors; $11 youths ages 13-17; and children ages 12 and under are free. Timed and dated tickets may be purchased in advance. Complete ticketing information will be available on the Fine Arts Museums website: www.thinker.org

About the new de Young
Founded in 1895 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, the de Young museum has been an integral part of the cultural fabric of the city and a cherished destination for millions of residents and visitors to the region for over 100 years. On October 15, 2005, the de Young museum will re-open in a new facility designed by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and Fong & Chan Architects in San Francisco. The new de Young will provide San Francisco with a landmark art museum to showcase the museum’s significant collections of American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, modern and contemporary art, art from Central and South America, the Pacific and Africa, as well as an important and diverse collection of textiles.

The de Young and its sister museum, the Legion of Honor, together make up the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the largest public arts institution in the city and one of the largest art museums in the United States.

Museum Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m.; Friday: Open until 8:45 p.m. Admission Fees: Adults $10, Seniors $7, Youth 13-17 and college students with ID $6 Children 12 and under FREE; First Tuesday of Each Month FREE; Muni visitor discount (with fast pass or transfer) $2 DISCOUNT