Treasures of Egyptian Hermits
(monuments of Coptic art and written language in the Hermitage)
26 October 1999 - March 2000
The exhibition includes 300 monuments of Coptic art and written language
of 3 - 12th centuries. (Copts was the name given to the natives of Egypt
by the Arabs who conquered this country in 641. Since 17th century the
words "Copt" and "coptic" started to be used by scientists to identify
christian Egyptians and their culture).
Icon painting, weaving, stone and wooden sculpture, carved bone and
metal, ceramics, leather articles, papyruses are represented at this exhibition.
Apart from world known masterpieces of Coptic art such as fragments of
the tunic decorated with scenes of the labours of Hercules and triumph
of Dionysos, a plate depicting carpenter Colphe, a bronze chandelier with
a female figure and snow leopards, there is a considerable amount of worldclass
monuments that have been little known even for specialists. The Hermitage
collection of Coptic art amounts to more than 5,5 thousand exhibits, has
a number of unique and rare works of art and rates one of the best in
the world. All types of Coptic art (but for the monumental painting) are
represented in this collection. The Hermitage is especially proud of the
collection of textiles (more than 300). Monuments of written language
(papyruses, parchments, stones, wood) with texts in Greek and Coptic enjoy
wide fame among specialists.
The basis for the Hermitage collection of Coptic art was laid down in
the late 19th century by the curator of the Department of the Middle Ages
and the Renaissance of the Hermitage V.G.Bock. From his two expeditions
to the Nile Valley (1888 - 1889 and 1897 - 1898) he brought more than
3,5 thousand of versatile works of art and monuments of written language.
Later on the Hermitage collection was enlarged with exhibits from other
museums and private collections, new acquisitions and gifts.
Head of an Angel
Medallion with the Goddess of the Earth Gaia
Chandelier with a Figure of a Woman
IV -V centuries