Fayum Reimagined

I was delighted yesterday when a Facebook friend noticed the similarity to the above image, a work in progress which I had posted to social media and to that of the Egyptian-Roman mummy portraits of Fayum (late 1st c. B.C. to approximately 3rd c. A.D.).

I have a keen fondness for Fayum paintings, one of the last links to the celebrated paintings of the Classical world. We have the frescoes of course, but painting, which was so well praised and documented in the Classical period, is for the most part available to us except in the mosaic reproductions found gracing the villas of Pompeii. The Fayum panel portraits are therefore even more precious  a cherished reminder of a splendid tradition lost to time.

I’ve been conscious of the aesthetic similarities but hadn’t engaged with the likeness actively as a concept. But as my faces are attached to a stuffed fiber torso and my predecessors upon linen wrappings, there is an undeniable link. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, I hadn’t been that familiar withthe Fayum paintings, but the Getty Villa, once again, with its admirable Classical collection afforded an intimacy with these portraits of lost souls. The Getty Villa is a slice of heaven.

There is such freshness and vitality to these encaustic and tempera portraits that one feels you have met these folks before (here in LA, perhaps The Grove).

From the Getty collection, this lovely lady graces the Getty shopping tote.

Frequently they are portraits imagined in the full bloom of youth.

I haven’t the source, long clipped and saved, unattributed.

There is in that, a similarity to my own work; an ode to comeliness and youth.

I haven’t yet seen a Fayum portrait that wasn’t expressive, each visage staring directly into your soul , in some cases swaddled in their shroud.

I recently saw this wonderful mummy portrait with its unusually intact wrappings at the Getty Center. This isn’t my image however.

My aim of expressiveness is the same.

“Daphne” in progress.
“Daphne”, with their own elaborate wrappings.

This is a particularly handsome example, link follows: http://solarey.net/ancient-faces-egyptian-portrait-man/

A few of my own “Fayum” ( Gayum ?) portraits. Pardon the silly pun, but who could resist?

I am going to close with this fanciful image of a discovery of a Fayum mummy. Although the Wikipedia source seems to disparage the accuracy of the depiction, its fancifulness is just what delights me. This imagined scene, with its loose-limbed cadaver and baroque sarcophagus is in keeping with my own vision.

Engraving by Pietro Della Valle.

Image source and further Fayum information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fayum_mummy_portraits

With that, good night.

 

 

 

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

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