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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Shelbourne’s banished statues were part of mania for all things Egyptian

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/shelbourne-s-banished-statues-were-part-of-mania-for-all-things-egyptian-1.4316650

Shelbourne's banished statues were part of mania for all things Egyptian

Story of Nubian princess became known in 19th century after hieroglyphics translated

A plinth outside the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, after a            statue had been removed in recent days. Photograph Nick            Bradshaw

A plinth outside the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, after a statue had been removed in recent days. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Statues of Nubian princesses and their slave girls which have been removed from outside the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin were erected at a time when Egyptology was in vogue around the world, a historian has said.

John Ducie, a tour guide and former vice-chairman of An Taisce, said the story of the princess captured by the Egyptians was the inspiration for countless books, statues and most famously of all Verdi's opera, Aida, which premiered in 1871 but had been in preparation for years beforehand.

The captured Nubian princess who became queen of Egypt when the pharoah fell in love with her was known to people in 19th century society when Egyptologists learned to translate hieroglyphics.

"The story itself is from the 1850s. Verdi's opera is just the best known of a series of playwrights and operatic composers from that period who used the story. It was used over and over again," Mr Ducie explained.

One of the statues depicting slave girls holding torches.          Photograph: Wikimedia Commons
One of the statues depicting slave girls holding torches. Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

The four statues were erected at the front of the Shelbourne in 1867 and have been there since, until their removal on Monday.

You will find these statues all over the place. People put them in their homes. Everything Egyptian was so chic

They depict two Nubian princesses from Nubia in modern-day Sudan and their shackled slave girls. The pieces were commissioned from the MM Barbezat studios in Paris.



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