Exlibris der Agyptenrezeption und Agyptomanie: Zur Sammlung des Gutenberg-Museums in Mainz.

Author:Beckman, Gary
Position:Book review

Exlibris der Agyptenrezeption und Agyptomanie: Zur Sammlung des Gutenberg-Museums in Mainz. By KIRSTEN KONRAD. Philippika, vol. 90. Wiesbaden: HARRASSOWITZ VERLAG, 2015. Pp. 488, illus. [euro]78.

Egyptomania has taken many disparate forms, from the original "Tombs" jail house in lower Manhattan (1838-1902) to printed cigarette packets and advertisements (e.g., S. Anargyros' "Egyptian Deities"), to the Bangles' pop hit "Walk Like an Egyptian" (1986). Among the more collectible physical objects of this genre are bookplates, of which Mainz's Gutenberg-Museum possesses around a hundred examples (among a total holding of nearly 100,000 Exlibris; see pp. 11-12 for a sketch history of this accumulation).

The volume under review is a thorough catalogue of the 112 examples from the Gutenberg Museum with Egyptian themes, augmented by 21 pieces in the possession of the author. Following a short discussion of the art of the bookplate and its utilization of Egyptian motifs from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, the collection is presented in three sections: 1) plates whose designs depict well-known works of Egyptian sculpture, craft, or architecture, such as the bust of Nefertiti or the Great Pyramids; 2) "agyptisierend" Exlibris making use of images that cannot be identified as those of particular Egyptian objects or buildings; and 3) those featuring a female sphinx, including a number with Greek elements.

In addition to a concise description and a black-and-white photo--sometimes rather too small for close study--of the bookplates, each catalogue entry lists the artist (when known), the patron for whom the plate was created, and its approximate date, measurements, and medium (lithograph, drawing, etc.). Most items are provided with a commentary of one-half to three pages in which the author discusses miscellaneous matters, such as the career of the artist and/or bibliophile involved, secondary sources (books, posters, advertisements) from which the image employed might have been borrowed, the symbolic meaning of motifs, and so on. This information is then presented systematically in charts near the end of the book.

Since almost all of the...

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