Object of the Month – May 2012

Egyptian necklace with beads and amulets

Egyptian necklace

This necklace isn’t as old as you might think. It was made in Egypt for a tourist 100 to 200 years ago. In the 1800s Egypt became an increasingly popular tourist destination and these visitors were keen to bring back souvenirs of their trip. This could be something made as a souvenir, or a fake made to look much older than it was.

However, in this case the beads themselves are much older than the necklace.

As the beads were restrung relatively recently we cannot be certain where in Egypt they were originally found. However, we do know what all the larger beads – or amulets – stood for. These figures provided magical protection for the wearer, in this life or the afterlife.

The amulets include two eye of Horus (wadjet), Isis (recognisable by the throne on her head), four Tawerets (pregnant hippopotamus), two Anubis figures (with jackal head), two Bes figures (who protected children) and four striding men.

This fascinating necklace belonged to a professor of Egyptology at Oxford who worked in Egypt with Flinders Petrie, a famous archaeologist.

The Herbert has about 30 objects from ancient Egypt, all donated by individuals. You can see some of them on display in the History Gallery and a drawer of small objects in What’s in Store.

Painting Conservation

More on Cope’s ‘Martyrdom of Laurence Saunders at Coventry.’

Cleaning is progressing well on the picture.

There is a coating of dirt and a yellow/brown discoloured layer obscuring the colours in the painting. The sky has areas of blue and pink, white and grey. The layers are being removed with a suitable solution which leaves the paint surface intact.Test cleans on the Martyrdom of Laurence Saunders at Coventry

Pictured above is the sky with test cleans on the right hand side.

The discoloured layer has a flattening effect. Cleaning has revealed the pinkish-red roofs and spires of Coventry in the background. Details of the brushstrokes also begin to emerge. The distinctive spires above and below are those of St Michael’s, on the left- hand side; Greyfriars in the middle and Holy Trinity on the right of the picture.

Detail of cleaned areas on the Martyrdom of Laurence Saunders at Coventry

The artist, Charles West Cope (1811- 1890) is known as a Victorian painter and etcher of historical, literary and genre subjects. He also painted frescoes at the House of Lords after winning a competition to decorate the Houses of Parliament.  He exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time in 1833.  He was born in Leeds and apparently given the name ‘West’ after the American artist Benjamin West. He studied at the Royal Academy and later in Paris.

Cleaning has also begun on the subject of the triptych – Laurence Saunders, a Protestant minister. Saunders was brought to Coventry after his arrest for preaching ‘heresies’. Although Saunders’ church was All Hallows in Bread Street, London he was brought to Coventry and burned there – with others – on the 8th February 1555. His brother, Sir Edward Saunders, was Recorder of Coventry and had spoken out – unsuccessfully- on his behalf.

Jill Irving

A Royal Occasion…

Factory tour at the Emma Bridgewater Factory

Factory tour at the Emma Bridgewater Factory

Over the last few weeks the Herbert Learning Team have been working with Coventry’s Sowe Valley Primary school and the elderly people’s care home that sits across from the school on an intergenerational project that focuses on the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

The aim of the project is to encourage the children and elderly people to share their memories of royal events that have happened over the last 60 years. For the children the only major event that they can remember was the Royal Wedding from last year, but for the care home residents they had a whole bank of stories, memories and even some objects that they could share with the children.

As the project has progressed we have seen the children’s knowledge of the royal family expand beyond expectations. At just 8 and 9 years old the children only really knew the basics of who the Royal family are and why we have them in England. For most of them they knew who the Queen was (phew!) and of course they recognised Wills and Kate… however they were under the impression that Prince William was the Queen’s son and Charles was her husband (oh dear!). We soon sorted that out though with a family tree activity to help them understand who’s who, the order of the family and the line of accession to the throne. After 4 weeks of working with them they can now easily tell us who Prince Charles has been married to, the name of Queen Elizabeth’s father, and who will be the next 2 future Kings of England, plus lots more.

We’ve also been using some of the museum’s royal memorabilia from the years gone by as a trigger for memories for the

Souvenirs in the making

Souvenirs in the making

care home residents, and as an inspiration for everyone to design their own royal souvenir to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. To help bring the children and elderly people together we treated them to an exciting and unique day at the Emma Bridgewater factory, where we were taken on a tour of the working factories, and saw royal souvenirs in the making and even got to make our own in the design studio. It was a brilliant day and everyone who took part spoke about how much the enjoyed themselves.

The children have grown really fond of the people they have met from the care home, and vice versa. They are always asking about when they will meet again to keep their new found relationship going. We’re glad to say their journey isn’t ending just yet as we’ll all be getting together again for a celebratory street party at the museum to celebrate the jubilee and on the day we’ll present everyone with their fired and finished potteries that they created together. And of course, even the Herbert staff got involved with everything too including sitting on a snazzy spotted throne and the more menial tasks of washing up… well it can’t all be glamorous!

I’ll post again to show you how the pottery collection turned out and what the street party was like. Until next time folks!

Lisa.

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Object of the Month – March 2012

 

Anglo Saxon shield boss

Anglo-Saxon Shield Boss

Anglo-Saxon warriors are typically pictured wearing a helmet, brandishing a spear or axe and holding a shield. These iconic objects were sometimes buried with the person when he died. From archaeological remains such as these, we have a good idea what people in the past may have looked like.

This shield boss would have formed the centre of a shield and protected the warrior’s hand. It was hand beaten out of a piece of iron. It dates from between 550 and 650 AD. It was found by Jack Edwards during archaeological excavations in Baginton in the 1930s.  

We know little about Saxon Coventry. However, we believe there was a settlement at Baginton near the present day church. It is known their cremation burial ground was on the north side of the village. This settlement was no longer used by 700 AD, at around the same time that people may have built houses on or near what is now Coventry city centre.

This shield boss along with cremation pots from the cemetery can be seen in What’s in Store our accessible store in the Herbert.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 7

Kenilworth Castle with cattle by Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding

Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding (1787 to 1855)
Kenilworth Castle with cattle
pre 1855

Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding was a popular and successful painter, particularly in watercolour. He exhibited over 600 works during his life. From the early 1800s Fielding made several tours around Britain painting landscapes.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 6

William Brooke, Ancient Passage Leading to the Hall, 1819

William Brooke (1772 to 1860)
Ancient Passage leading to the Hall
1819

St Mary’s Guildhall was begun in 1340 by the merchant guild of St Mary. The building was soon also used by the mayor and governing body of the city, which was closely linked to the guild. It continued to be the city’s centre of administration until construction of the Council House was completed 1917. It hosted many royal visits and a royal prisoner – Mary Queen of Scots. More interesting historical facts about the Guildhall can be found on Coventry City Council’s website.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 5

Bablake School by Edith Gittins

Edith Gittins (1845 to 1910)
Bablake School
1868 – 1887

Edith Gittins was a social reformer who campaigned for women’s rights. She founded the Leicester Women’s Liberal Association and was an active member of the Women’s Suffrage movement.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 4

Jordan Well, Coventry by Sydney Bunney, 1916

Sydney Bunney (1877 to 1928)
Jordan Well, Coventry
June 8 1916

Sydney Bunney is best known for his accurate views of Coventry streets and buildings, painted between the 1890s and his death. The Herbert has over five hundred of his pencil and watercolour drawings of Coventry.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 3

 

Bayley Lane and 'The Cottage', Coventry by Herbert Cox, 1918

What do you think these men are talking about?

Herbert Cox (1869 to 1941)
Bayley Lane and ‘The Cottage’, Coventry
1918

Bayley Lane is one of the oldest streets in Coventry. The name was in use in the 1200s and probably comes from the bailey or outer defences of the castle which stood in this area in the 1100s and 1200s.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

Wonderful Watercolours Sneak Peek 2

Old Clopton Bridge, Stratford Upon Avon by William Quatremain

William Wells Quatremain (about 1858 to 1930)
Old Clopton Bridge, Stratford upon Avon
1919

Old Clopton Bridge, which has fourteen arches, was built about 1490. It still carries the main road over the River Avon.

William Quatremain also painted some views of Stratford for a popular booklet entitled ‘Shakespeare’s Stratford-on-Avon’ by J. Salmon, Art Printer, Sevenoaks. Quatremain had a bicycle adapted to carry his paint box, easel and stool.

This watercolour and many others will be on display in Wonderful Watercolours: Views of Coventry and Warwickshire. The exhibition runs from 25 February to 22 July 2012 at the Herbert. Entry is free.

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