January 27 – April 28, 2024

Frederick Arthur Bridgman_Cleopatra on the Terraces at Philae_Web

Frederick Arthur Bridgman, American, 1847-1928, Cleopatra on the Terraces at Philae, 1896. Oil on canvas, 29 7/8 x 46 1/8 in. (75.9 x 117.2 cm), Framed: 39 3/8 x 55 7/8 x 3 ½ in. (100 x 141.9 x 8.9 cm). Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, 1999.5

Holmes Gallery

The VBMA presents Ancient Egypt & the Napoleonic Era: Masterworks from the Dahesh Museum of Art. 

Western encounters with the Orient date back many centuries, but the Industrial Revolution developed dynamic new levels of engagement. New and better forms of transportation created a flood of travelers—writers, scholars and, most crucially, artists—all heading to the Orient. The result was an extraordinary range of artworks with a variety of themes and styles. The show explores artistic visions of the cultures and peoples from the time Napoleon entered Egypt, taking with him dozens of draftsmen and engineers to create renderings of this country’s rich cultural phenomena.  

The show features paintings, sculptures, and illustrated books by a diverse group of artists, many of whom were academically trained, having learnt to draw and paint from life, and sketch directly from nature (en plein-air). Their motivations to travel varied: some accompanied official governments or wealthy patrons, others were drawn to create fresh subject matter that appealed to a changing Western art market. 

All works are on loan from the Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, the only institution in the United States devoted to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting works by Europe’s academically trained artists of the nineteen and early twentieth centuries. The Dahesh serves a diverse audience by placing these artists in the broader context beyond the role academies played in reinvigorating the classical ideals of beauty, humanism, and skill.