Frederick Arthur Bridgman
- Frederick Arthur Bridgman
- The Procession of the Bull Apis
- signed F. A. Bridgman and dated 1879 (lower left)
- oil on canvas
Daniel B. Grossman Collection, New York
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, May 24, 1988, lot 41, illustrated
Private Collector, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Acquired in circa 2000
New York, Mr. Avery's Gallery; Boston, Williams and Everett, Exhibition of Bridgman's Three Archeological Paintings, 1880
“Frederick Arthur Bridgman,” The Art Amateur: a Monthly Journal Devoted to the Art of the Household, vol. 40, no. 4 (March 1899), p. 77.
Ilene Susan Fort, Frederick Arthur Bridgman and the American fascination with the exotic Near East, Ph.D. diss., City University of New York, 1990, pp.153-4, 156, 158, 165, 170, 175, 461, illustrated fig. 67
Gerald M. Ackerman, American Orientalists, Paris, 1994, p. 48, illustrated opposite
Herman de Meulenaere with Patrick and Viviane Berko, Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Painting, n.p. 1992, p. 109, illustrated pp. 110-1, detail as cover
The cavernous setting for this hallowed promenade is likely based on Bridgman’s sketches of Ptolemaic temples in Egypt, such as those at Dendera and Philae, and in particular, the temple of Horus at Edfou, one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman temples from this period. (The cult of the Apis bull, with all its flowered festivals and ritualistic sacrifices, was in fact centered at Memphis, several hundred miles from this Upper Egyptian scene.) On the columns, Ptolemaic cartouches and hieroglyphs are visible; though most are indecipherable, others in the composition, such as those adorning the garments of the high priest, clearly bear the name of one of the bull’s aspects, the god Osiris. The religious furniture that Bridgman includes recalls various objects in American and European museums and collections: the naos, atop a solar bark and draped with a cloth bearing figures of the goddess Ma’at, resembles descriptions provided to the artist by Samuel Birch, Keeper of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum. Bridgman’s diligent study of contemporary scholarly publications, including John Gardner Wilkinson’s Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians (1837), may also have supplied him with information for this work, particularly with regard to the canopic chest at left. The presence of this and other distinctly funerary pieces, accurately rendered but incongruous in the scene, are a reminder of the composite nature of even the most persuasive of Bridgman’s Orientalist works.
This catalogue note was written by Dr. Emily M. Weeks.