The content presented on this site was created by Professor Elizabeth Marlowe's ARTS481 class during the spring semester of 2012 at Colgate University. The course focused on a group of twenty large, figural reliefs sculpted in limestone that were part of the Mayer bequest to the Picker Art Gallery. These works had never been studied or displayed before. Before the ARTS481 class spent the semester researching the objects and presented the information here, they were completely unknown to the museum and gallery world.
Preliminary research suggested that these reliefs may have been produced in Egypt in the 4th or 5th century CE. The class considered the reliefs from a number of angles throughout the semester. How do scholars reconstruct a historical context for artworks about which we have virtually no documentation? What do other reliefs produced in Egypt during that period look like? Can we determine, by looking very closely at their dimensions, style and iconography, if these all came from one building, and what kind of building that might have been? How do we know they aren't fake? Are there cultural property issues at stake here? Why did Mayer purchase these in the 1960s for his New York gallery of contemporary art? Were any of them ever displayed in his gallery? If so, how and why?
Professor Elizabeth Marlowe teaches Ancient and Medieval Art at Colgate University.