Monthly Archives: May 2012

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

%d bloggers like this: