I harbour a long standing passion for Egyptian Art of the 18th Dynasty. Long ago my mother purchased me a copy of Christiane Desroches Noblecourt’s Ancient Egypt: The New Kingdom and Amarna Period. (The Acanthus History of Sculpture series. The Oldbourne Press.) The image of Nefertiti on the book’s dust-jacket bewitched me from the top shelf of the bookshop we were browsing. To this day I’m filled with boundless admiration for my mother, acquiring such an unlikely and expensive book that she can have ill-afforded, and all for a shy nine year old. I don’t recall that I actually asked for it, though I did request it be brought down for us to look at. She must have seen that once opened I coveted what was within it and she made the decision to purchase the book unbidden. Once home with it I worked my way carefully through the text, slowly piecing together the pronunciations of unfamiliar spellings. To this day I’m filled with pleasure by the sound of such names as Ankhesanpaaton, Maket Aton and Smenkere.
I knew from the book that the Former State Museum Berlin was the repository of many Amarnan treasures (now the Neues Museum) including the famous swan-necked bust of Nefertiti. I simply don’t know why it’s taken all these years for me to get there. Together with the Koppel exhibition, the visit was the highlight for me of our trip to Berlin. I left the Neues Museum with my mind whirling. I won’t try to explain, but here are some images… not all of them Amarnan… that set my heart racing. Some photographs of the museum too, which is staggeringly beautiful. However, you’ll find no images of that famous polychrome bust of Nefertiti here, as in her presence alone the use of cameras is forbidden. The bust of the Queen is displayed in a glass cabinet placed centrally in a spacious, semi-darkened room. She did not disappoint. What I can share with you is that no photograph I’ve ever seen has done her beauty justice. Moreover close examination of the famous conical head-dress reveals a secret no printed image has ever captured. The sculptor mixed mica particles into the blue paint of the Queen’s crown, so it glitters!