Libmonster ID: U.S.-1376
Author(s) of the publication: K. V. MESHCHERINA

Keywords: V. S. Golenishchev, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, funeral veil, Russian Egyptology, collection, restoration works

This year, the Russian Society of Egyptology celebrates the 160th anniversary of the birth of the famous orientalist, Egyptologist, collector and traveler Vladimir Semenovich Golenishchev (1856-1947). For 30 years, he collected oriental-Egyptian and Near-Asian-antiquities, which are kept today in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts (GMII). His collection was acquired by the state and transferred to the Museum of Fine Arts (now the State Museum of Fine Arts) in 1909.

In honor of the 160th anniversary of the birth of V. S. Golenishchev, the museum opened the exhibition "Two Amenemhats: Portraits of one Tsar of the Middle Kingdom era", and an international conference"At the Origins of Russian Egyptology" was held. And in the museum's workshops, one of the most unique items in its collection is being restored - an old funeral veil.

Amenemhat " ... "The Middle Kingdom"... These words can hardly say anything to a person who is not familiar with Egypt. Meanwhile, once at the exhibition, you realize that you can do without special training. None of its visitors felt uncomfortable thanks to "electronic guides" - video screens on the walls of the halls with a running line, where in Russian and English they told about the history of Egypt at that time and its ruler Amenemhat III. You could also book an excursion, for example, for schoolchildren, and listen to a short lecture about Ancient Egypt and the art of that distant time.

The exhibition was held in the Main Building of the State Museum of Fine Arts, in the Hall of Ancient Egyptian Art from February 2 to May 9. Basically, there is a permanent exhibition from the ancient Egyptian collection of the museum. These are wooden and stone sarcophagi, statues, reliefs, household items and funerary worship, mummies of people and animals, papyri, vessels and ornaments, figurines of deities and amulets.

The permanent exhibition was complemented by two statues of the same king, Amenemhat III, which were exhibited together for the first time. One is from the Hermitage collection, the other is from the State Museum of Fine Arts, which previously belonged to V. S. Golenishchev. They attracted the main attention of visitors, who stayed near them the longest and looked with interest for differences and similarities in these seemingly similar images. And for good reason. This is the secret of the Middle Kingdom era.

Statue from the Hermitage-from

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black granite. This is a well-preserved statue of a king sitting on a throne. As for the exhibit from the State Museum of Fine Arts, it is made of basalt and is a fragment of the statue of Amenemhat III sitting. When you look closely at the two statues, you can't help noticing that the one from the Hermitage depicts a young tsar with a youthful puffiness at the corners of his mouth, which was skillfully conveyed by sculptors of that time. But the statue from the State Museum of Fine Arts is already a mature ruler, a ruler. The fact that this is already an adult Amenemhat III, and not a young man, is indicated by sunken cheeks, a pronounced suborbital furrow, lowered corners of the eyes, and nasolabial folds.

Interestingly, V. S. Golenishchev was the first to study these two sculptural masterpieces when he worked as a curator of ancient Egyptian monuments in the Hermitage. He compared them with the faces of the sphinxes from the city of Tanis in Lower Egypt and proved that all these images are identical and belong to the same ruler - Amenemhat III.

Here is what the head of the Department of the Ancient East of the State Museum of Fine Arts O. A. Vasilyeva also said about this.: "The study of V. S. Golenishchev is considered a colossal discovery of the historical plan and a discovery related to the study of the royal portrait of the Middle Kingdom era... This is an unusual era for Egypt - the flourishing of Egyptian culture and writing, and it is interesting how the kings were depicted at this time. The sculptors conveyed fatigue, nervous tension, and age-related changes on their faces, which was basically not inherent in the art of Egypt in the earlier historical period."

In the next room, the eye involuntarily stops at an ancient funeral linen veil of the second half of the second century AD, presumably from the Saqqara necropolis near Memphis. It depicts a young man surrounded by two gods of the Egyptian pantheon-the embalming god and guide to the afterlife of Anubis and the king of the afterlife of Osiris. The man's face is made on a separate piece of canvas and inserted into the veil. It is believed that portraits of the dead were depicted on funeral swaddling clothes, in which their mummified bodies were then wrapped.

In total, the State Museum of Fine Arts keeps two such samples with similar iconography, and both are from the collection of V. S. Golenishchev.

At the end of 2015, the State Museum of Fine Arts launched a large-scale project to restore the second linen shroud from Saqqara, dating back to the second century AD, which depicts a mother with a child. It's in very poor condition. As part of the project, a special website was created- dedicated to this unique art monument.

On the site, you can view this veil in the smallest details and in multiple magnifications. So, it is clearly visible that the child, who is holding the hand of a woman, was depicted on canvas a little later. He may have died shortly after her. It is possible that she was his mother.

About why to this pogre-

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The ballroom shroud attracts so much attention from historians and art historians, and I asked the head of the museum's restoration department, I. V. Borodin, to tell us what place the shrouds occupy in the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

- The ancient Egyptian burial cloths that are presented in our museum are unique in their iconography - the deceased was depicted accompanied by two Egyptian gods Osiris and Anubis. There are only 6 such fully preserved shrouds in the world - 3 more are in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin and one in the Louvre. This is one of the most unique monuments in the collection of our museum.

The main task of the restorers involved in these complex works is to stop the destruction of a unique monument. Preliminary analyses have shown that the so-called glutinous glue was used to restore the shroud in the 19th century. Over time, it lost its plasticity, which led to an increase in the rigidity and fragility of the shroud threads, swellings and scree of the paint layer, and also caused numerous kinks and deformations of the canvas.

At the first stage of the work, the entire surface of the shroud was examined under a microscope. Modern electron microscopes of the latest generation were used. This made it possible not only to clarify the state of preservation of the shroud, but also to identify a number of technological features of its manufacture, as well as traces of restoration carried out in the XIX century.

All these works are carried out in one of the workshops of the State Museum of Fine Arts. The restoration process is technologically complex and very expensive. After all, we are dealing with very ancient fabrics and paints that require special treatment and the use of unique materials. Researchers and restorers from the Biofactory Department of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, the D. N. Anuchin Research Institute and Museum of Anthropology, the Russian State Pedagogical University, the State Historical Museum, the I. E. Grabar Art Research Center, Microsystems and Art Consulting companies, as well as specialists from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are involved in the work.

The group of restorers is headed by N. P. Sinitsyna, an artist-restorer of the highest category, who has worked in the Museums of the Moscow Kremlin for more than 30 years. She worked as a member of the Historical Necropolis restoration and research group, conducted joint work with the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, conducted restoration projects with the Museum of Orientalism (Doha, Qatar), the National Museum (Muscat, Sultanate of Oman) , and also participated in expeditions of the Center for Egyptological Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where she was engaged in the restoration of archaeological fabrics and skin.

The program of restoration and research works includes not only a comprehensive study and restoration of the unique monument, but also the creation of a series of films dedicated to the history of the collection of V. S. Golenishchev, funeral ritual, iconography and the purpose of ancient Egyptian veils. Experts in the field of anthropology and archeology will tell you about the population of Greco-Roman Egypt, about the history of the origin of collecting and collecting monuments of Ancient Egypt.

All films will be posted as they are released on the website Anyone can view them.

The restoration work is scheduled to be completed by the summer of this year, and the burial shroud will once again be displayed in the museum's permanent exhibition.

K. V. MESHCHERINA, Editor of the magazine "Asia and Africa Today"


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K. V. MESHCHERINA, HERITAGE OF ANCIENT EGYPT IN THE COLLECTION OF A RUSSIAN ORIENTALIST // New-York: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 06.02.2024. URL: (date of access: 13.07.2024).

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