Edouard and Cleopatra. Egyptomanias from the XIXth century
20 Septembre 2012 – 10 February 2013

For many years, the Boghossian Foundation has kept its goal to contribute as much as possible to the dialog between western and eastern cultures. That is why the Boghossian Foundation has set up its main office at the Villa Empain, a Brussels Art deco gem. After being totally renovated, this magnificent building has open its doors to the public in April 2010.

In its building, the Boghossian Foundation offers exhibitions, concerts, lectures, international meetings that bring together and confront many aspects of these different cultures.

The artistic creation has an essential role in these process. Art is taken here as a strength of dialog, a universal language that overcomes crackings, that goes through times, disciplines and borders.

Egyptomania, a lasting fascination

From the XVIIIth century and during the Napoleon Bonapartes campaign in particular, Egypt fascinates searchers as well as art and antiquities lovers. The opening of the Suez canal in 1869, the development of the Orientalism and the trend of vast universal exhibitions generalize this enthusiasm for the Nile’s Valley and the richness of its history.

Source of influence and fascination, the image of Egypt has taken thousands of shapes in the West for more than two centuries, including architecture, ornamental arts, painting and sculpture, in literature and, more recently, in cinema and comics. The zoological gardens of Berlin, Hamburg or Antwerp with their Egyptian looking temple for giraffes and elephants witness among others of its influence.

Famous writers such as Gustave Flaubert, Theophile Gauthier, Gerard de Nerval, painters, photographs, compositors like Giuseppe Verde, Sarah Bernhardt in the character of Cleopatra (1880, theater piece of Victorien Sardou) haven’t escaped from this trend. In 1922, the spectacular discovery of the Tutankhamun revives the imaginary that will inspire the creators of the Art Deco.

Modernity takes possession of the mythical figure of Cleopatra with Liz Taylor, in the famous John Mankiewicz movie, and invites to the adventure with Herge and Edgar P. Jacobs, thanks to the boards of their well-known albums (Tintin and the cigars or the Pharaoh, Tintin and The Mystery of the great Pyramid). Later, this will be Asterix who will dare to go to the land of Pyramids and the land of the legendary queen

Fascinating mommies with detailed description of the Nile’s shores, from the Return from Egypt style to the decryption of hieroglyphs, from the pharaonic architectures to the Orientalist paintings, from the Empire to the Art Deco furniture, from jewels to fashion accessories, from opera to theater, from literature to comic strips, from the Heliopolis construction by Edouard Empain to the cruises on the Nile, one captivating universe is laid out through this exhibition and witnesses once again, of the deep links between eastern and western cultures.

The exhibition has been set up with the scientific advices of the Professor Eugène Warmembol of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, member of the mission held in Elkab (Upper Egypt) for the Royal Museum of Art and History, member of the mission managed by the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Gourna (left side of Luxor) and author of the book Le lotus et l’oignon. Egyptologie et Egyptomanie en Belgique au XIXème siècle (Ed. Le Livre Timperman, 2012).

The exhibition has been coordinated by Diane Hennebert, director of the Boghossian Foundation, and by Christophe Dosogne, artistic consultant at the Boghossian Foundation. A catalog, with a introduction by the Professor Eugène Warmembol, completes the exhibition.

Special thanks

The Boghossian Foundation takes advantages of many collaborations with lenders in the frame of this exhibition, including

The Bibliothèque nationale de France Opéra Garnier (Paris), the Institut français d’Architecture (Paris), the Musée national d’Art moderne Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Museum and park of the Château de Compiègne, the Musée des Beaux Arts of Grenoble, the Musée des Beaux Arts of Orléans, the Musée of Quimper, Cité de la céramique, Sèvres & Limoges, the New York Public Library (New York), the Brussels Fine Arts Academy, the Archives d’Architecture Moderne (Brussels), the Hendrik Conscience Library (Antwerp), The Human sciences library of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Musée communal d’Ixelles, the Musée François Duesberg (Mons), the Musée royal de Mariemont (Morlanwelz), the Royal Museum of Art and History (Brussels), the Opera royal of La Monnaie (Brussels), Amicom vzw (Antwerp), Baccarat Patrimoine (Paris), the Boghossian Collection (Brussels and Geneva), the Cartier Collection (Paris and Geneva), the Edgar P. Jacobs Foundation (Brussels), the Loge des Amis Philanthropes (Brussels), LVMH / Dior Couture (Paris), Ampersand House (Brussels), the Galerie Berko (Knokke), Collector’s Gallery (Brussels), the Galerie Yannick David (Brussels), Paul De Grande Antiques (Snellegem), Rose Issa Projects (London), the Miphan Gallery (Brussels), the Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Brussels and Paris), Victor Werner Antiques (Antwerp), the Maison Vrouyr (Antwerp), Svenkst Tenn (Stockholm), the count François d’Ansembourg, Céline Cléron, Youssef Nabil, Eugène Warmenbol and many other private lenders from Belgium or from abroad who whish to remain anonymous.