The Egyptian collection is particularly comprehensive and covers the entire history of the country, from prehistory to Roman times. The mummy hall is currently closed for renovation. However, several mummies are on display temporarily in the other halls of the Egyptian section.
History of the collection
Unlike the biggest European museums, which commenced at a fairly early stage in their histories to assemble relics from the pharaonic past, the Art & History Museum in Brussels began only recently, relatively speaking, to put an Egyptian collection together, more particularly with the acquisition around 1850 of a small core of objects. During the second half of the nineteenth century, this was expanded for the first time by the purchase (in 1861) of the collection of G. Hagemans and the donation (in 1884) of E. de Meester de Ravenstein.
The ‘embroideress Euphemia’
The Museum possess an important collection of about 500 textiles found in Egypt and dating to the 1st millennium. A well known ensemble comes from two different graves from a necropolis in Antinoë (Middle Egypt). Firstly the tomb of the ‘embroideress’, of which the mummy, textiles and grave contents were acquired and secondly, the tomb of the goldsmith Colluthos and his wife, of which only part of a sarcophagus and textiles were purchased.
Among the prize pieces are the so-called ‘Lady of Brussels’ a limestone figure of a woman, a head of King Mykerinos and a relief image of Queen Tiy, the wife of Amenhotep III. Also in the collection is an entire burial chamber, the mastaba of Nefertitenef, various sarcophagi and mummies from different periods, including the so-called ‘Embroideress’ mummy, and one of the finest books of the dead that has survived from Ancient Egypt: the papyrus roll of the sculptor Neferrenpet.
Under the watchful eye of Thoth, the scribe devotes himself to his prestigious occupation. In the thematic showcases, discover the different scripts of ancient Egypt and the materials used.
At present, the collection numbers more than 11 000 pieces and can be termed representative of every great period of flowering in Egyptian history. Just a selection of them is displayed: items of outstanding quality, illustrating the most diverse aspects of the art of Ancient Egypt, and items that are important from mainly a cultural and historical point of view.
Jean Capart and Queen Tiy
The collection’s current fame is due chiefly to Jean Capart (1877-1947), who laid the foundation of Egyptology in Belgium. A dynamic figure, he understood the art of attracting the interest of important patrons and of finding the right moment to make interesting acquisitions in the art market or at public auctions. When Jean Capart purchased this relief in 1905, it was covered with graffiti that made it impossible to identify. Only after cleaning did the face of Queen Tiy, wife of Amenhotep III, clearly appear.