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Egyptian Revival

The Egyptian Revival in the Decorative Arts of the 18th and Early 19th Century

During the Georgian era, which spanned from 1714 to 1830, there was a growing interest in ancient Egypt that led to a revival of Egyptian motifs in the decorative arts. This trend continued into the early 19th century, fueled by Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt and the subsequent mania for all things Egyptian.

The Georgian era was marked by a fascination with classical antiquity, which included ancient Egypt. This interest was reflected in the decorative arts of the time, with Egyptian motifs appearing in everything from furniture and textiles to ceramics and jewelry. However, it was not until the late 18th century that a full-blown Egyptian revival began to take hold.

One of the key figures in this revival was Thomas Hope, a wealthy collector and designer who was heavily influenced by his travels to Egypt and other parts of the Mediterranean. Hope’s designs featured Egyptian-inspired motifs such as sphinxes, lotus flowers, and hieroglyphics, and his book “Household Furniture and Interior Decoration” (1807) became a major source of inspiration for other designers.

The Egyptian revival gained even more momentum after Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt in 1798. The French army brought back numerous artifacts and images of Egyptian art and architecture, which sparked a craze for all things Egyptian in Europe. This mania, known as “Egyptomania,” was reflected in the decorative arts, with designers incorporating Egyptian motifs into their work in increasingly elaborate ways.

One of the most famous examples of Egyptian revival design from this period is the Egyptian Hall at the British Museum, which was completed in 1835. Designed by architect Sir Robert Smirke, the hall features columns modeled after those at Karnak and Luxor, as well as a massive statue of Ramesses II.

The Egyptian revival in the decorative arts of the 18th and early 19th century was a reflection of the era’s fascination with classical antiquity and its growing interest in the exotic. It was a trend that was fueled by the travels of wealthy collectors and designers, as well as by major historical events such as Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt. Today, Egyptian motifs continue to be popular in the decorative arts, a testament to their enduring appeal and timeless beauty.

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