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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Across time and cultures:250 objects of the British Museum
The title of the book, 'Masterpieces of the British Museum', is somewhat misleading in that not all of the 250 objects illustrated in the book are masterpieces in the conventional meaning of the word. The Director of the British Museum in his illuminating introduction acknowledges this fact and provides a clear explanation related to the Museum's mission. The British...
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by Serghiou Const

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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good enough
Believe it or not... there is a free kindle app by name vusiem for British Museum with more objects than this book.! see vusiem.com
Published on 29 Oct 2012 by arts


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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Across time and cultures:250 objects of the British Museum, 13 Feb 2011
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Serghiou Const (Nicosia, Cyprus) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Masterpieces of the British Museum (Paperback)
The title of the book, 'Masterpieces of the British Museum', is somewhat misleading in that not all of the 250 objects illustrated in the book are masterpieces in the conventional meaning of the word. The Director of the British Museum in his illuminating introduction acknowledges this fact and provides a clear explanation related to the Museum's mission. The British Museum, now operating for 250 years, has the mandate to enable everybody to visit it free of charge and explore the histories of the world through objects made by people from every part of the globe, from the beginnings of human culture to the twenty-first century. These range from well-known works of art through everyday tools. In this regard a stone chopping tool - hardly a masterpiece - has its place in the museum and the book because made nearly two million years ago is among the oldest surviving objects made by our human ancestors;it is a testimony for the beginning of technology and the use of what makes us human.

At this point some vital statistics about the Museum may be in order:the British Museum houses six million objects, drawings and prints while five million people visit annually its galleries. The Museum employs 150 skilled conservators and curators to preserve its objects and conduct research on them while ten thousand additional researchers, scholars and students come to study the objects in the Museum each year. Images of the museum's objects and information on them are available free of charge on the internet []

The book is organized in eleven cross-cultural themes comprising 'Seeing the Divine', 'Dress', 'Rulers', 'Violence and War', 'Mythical Beasts', 'Death', 'Animals', 'The Word', 'Eating and Drinking', 'The Human Form', and 'The Power of Objects'. For each thematic unity there is a brief two-page introduction commending on its cultural significance and the similarities and differences among cultures. Then follow on individual pages the illustration of the object, its description, provenance, and size.

In the ensuing I shall touch upon six themes and one object from each theme selected on the basis of their aesthetic appeal following the sequence they appear in the book.

'Rulers'. Rulers throughout the world have created powerful images of themselves to celebrate or commemorate their power, might, and achievements, and sometimes these images have lasted thousands of years after their death. The images of the rulers in the book are rarely realistic portraits. They usually represent an idealized image. My favourite in the theme is the 'Commemorative head of Queen Idia'. This brass head casting presents Queen mother Idia, from Benin, Nigeria and is stunningly beautiful.

'Mythical Beasts'. Magical and mythical creatures play an important role in the stories, legends, religions and literature of most cultures, so it is natural that images of these creatures are found across the Museum. My selection from this theme is the'Turquoise mosaic of a double-headed serpent'. This ornament is an icon of Aztec Art. The serpent played an important role in Aztec religion. It was probably worn on ceremonial occasions as chest ornament. It is carved on wood and covered with magnificent turquoise mosaic.

'Death'. Throughout the Museum are examples of the desire common to many human societies, to commemorate the dead in the hope that the memory of their lives will endure beyond their death. This desire has led to the creation of images immortalizing how the dead person looked or how they ideally looked. The 'Gilded outer coffin of Henutmehyt' is of a Theban princess and chantress of the god Amun who died 3000 years ago. Her richly decorated outer coffin provides a magnificent idealized image of her. The coffin is covered with religious symbols intended to insure the deceased's rebirth and well-being in the After-life.

'Animals'. The importance of animals as symbols and in myth is common to many cultures and their images can be seen in objects ranging from massive sculptures to tiny coins and seals. My favourite in the theme is the 'Head of the horse Selene' from the East pediment of the Parthenon temple in Athens. The sculptor has captured the very essence of a beast at the utmost limits of its physical endurance. It is correctly one of the most famous and best loved of all Parthenon sculptures.

'The Word'. One of the most famous objects in the Museum is a fragment of black rock covered with writing, known as the 'Rosetta Stone'. The stone is inscribed with a decree in hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek. The tri-lingual inscription permitted the deciphering of hieroglyphs with immense importance to Egyptology.

'The Human Form'. Many human images have been created to illustrate the essence of their subjects or express an ideal even though this ideal has often varied among or even within cultures. My favourite in the theme is the 'Limestone statue of an unnamed nobleman and his wife'. The reason for my fascination is a unique combination of beauty, nobility and serenity they emanate. They are dated in the later years of te Eighteenth Dynasty, around the reign of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC). The distingushed British sculptor Henry Moore admired particularly this statue which served as the inspiration for his 'King and Queen' now in the Tate Gallery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpieces of the British Museum., 14 April 2013
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This review is from: Masterpieces of the British Museum (Paperback)
Terrific books, interesting choices of pieces from the British Musuem. They made brilliant prizes for our Fine Arts Society raffle. Arrived in good time and in excellent condition.
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5.0 out of 5 stars VERY INTERESTING, 9 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Masterpieces of the British Museum (Paperback)
One of the most brilliant and interesting non fiction books I own
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4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good enough, 29 Oct 2012
This review is from: Masterpieces of the British Museum (Paperback)
Believe it or not... there is a free kindle app by name vusiem for British Museum with more objects than this book.! see vusiem.com
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