Perlberg visited Egypt in 1896, he made the painting after his return in Munich.
Perlberg is a well-known artist among collectors of postcards! Many of his watercolours were printed in those days as colour postcards.
The Colossi of Memnon stand on the West bank of the Nile, across the ancient capital of Thebes (present-day Luxor).
About Friedrich Perlberg
German painter and draughtsman
Nuremberg 1848 – 1921 Munich
Also known as Johann Friedrich Perlberg.
Son of the painter Georg Christian Perlberg (1806 – 1884).
His elder brother Georg Christoph (1848 – 1871) was also a painter.
Perlberg studied painting in his birthplace Nuremberg and in Paris, but he lived and worked mainly in Munich.
He travelled to and painted subjects of Italy, Spain and the Orient.
In 1896 he went to Egypt, Nubia and Sudan. Two years later, in 1898, he accompanied the German emperor Wilhelm II (1859 – 1941) to the Holy Land.
Perlberg’s art, especially his watercolours, was popularised in numerous colour postcards: of Germany, Italy, Egypt, etc.
About the Colossi of Memnon
These two giant stone sculptures, dating from the 14th century BC, on the West bank of the Nile are all that remains from a huge mortuary temple of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Each measures 18m high.
On the East bank, that is the other side of the Nile, stood the capital Thebes (today Luxor), the West bank (our side) was reserved to the dead, with tombs (Valley of the Kings, Queens and the Nobles) and mortuary temples (such as the Ramesseum).
Amenhotep III (also known as Amenophis III) belonged to the 18th dynasty. He reigned Egypt from circa 1386 to circa 1349 BC. His reign was of an unprecedented prosperity and artistic splendour. He was succeeded by his son Amenhotep IV, who changed his name into Akhenaten (Akhenaton or Echnaton). Tutankhamun reigned a bit later, circa 1332 -1323 BC.
The position of the mortuary temple was chosen wrongly, as it stood too close to the floodplain of the river Nile. Within 200 years it fell in ruins and it was used as a quarry by later pharaohs.
These seriously damaged twin statues that stood at the entrance gate of the temple represent the pharaoh in a seated position, with his hands resting on his knees. He is wearing the Nemes (klaft), that striped headcloth, that one also knows from the masque of Tutankhamum or from the Sphinx at Giza.
As to Memnon, that is the name of a hero from the Trojan War, killed by Achilles. Due to a crack that appeared in one of the statues (the Northern one, that is the right one, which in our painting stands to the left), following the 27 BC earthquake, that statue was said to “sing” at sunrise. As Memnon’s mother was said to be Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn, the story arose that the statue was mourning Memnon’s death.
Several Roman authors mentioned this miraculous “whistling” and the statues attracted already in those days tourists and believers (because of its oracular powers), among them several Roman emperors (the best-known visitors were emperor Hadrian and Antinous in 130 AD). Circa 199 AD the statue was partly restored and it stopped singing.
About our painting
At left nomads, who have made camp for the night, are making their evening prayer (“Maghrib”), that is the fourth of the five daily prayers in Islam.
This painting must date from 1896 or shortly after, as our painter visited Egypt in that year. It was painted in Munich (München in German) after his return. The painting is not dated. The copper plaque on the frame mentions an erroneous date of 1893.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because you are mad about Egyptian archaeology.