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Masking The Blow: The Scene Of Representation In Late Prehistoric Egyptian Art
by Whitney Davis
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The meaning of late prehistoric Egyptian images has until now been tantalizingly mysterious, as little understood as the circumstances of their production. As a result, analyses of these images have been general and often incorrectly illustrated. Whitney Davis now provides a welcome remedy in this detailed reinterpretation of the images carved on ivory knife handles and schist cosmetic palettes. These images are among the most important documents of early Egyptian history and include the Narmer Palette, often considered the very inception of ancient Egyptian image making.
Davis deciphers the intriguing pictorial narratives and complex metaphors of images that are concerned with "masking the blow" of the ruler. "Masking the blow" refers to the ways that the images--from hunted animals to human antagonists--represent, elide, or suppress the depiction of a ruler's violent act of conquering an enemy.
Examining late prehistoric Egyptian images in light of contemporary visual theory and illustrating his analyses with excellent reproductions, Davis goes beyond the usual concern for stylistic development and iconographic meanings that characterize prior studies. His work will greatly interest art historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and students of the visual arts.
From the Inside Flap
"Moves the discipline of Egyptological art history to a higher plane. As a result, one can neither engage in the sterile process of motif hunting per se nor be content to regard these palettes in terms of previous definitions of 'stylistic analysis.' "--Robert S. Bianchi, Brooklyn Museum
From the Back Cover
"Moves the discipline of Egyptological art history to a higher plane. As a result, one can neither engage in the sterile process of motif hunting per se nor be content to regard these palettes in terms of previous definitions of 'stylistic analysis.' " (Robert S. Bianchi, Brooklyn Museum)
About the Author
Whitney Davis is Associate Professor of Art History at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Canonical Tradition in Ancient Art (1989).
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