Imperial Relics

The mummies of Egypt are important historical relics of imperial power, culture, and art. Although the Egyptian embalming served religious purposes, the decorations on and around the coffins as well as the objects with which the body was entombed indicated the level of power and importance of the person in life. As in many cultures, the religious practices of ancient Egypt resulted in numerous artistic relics that continue to fascinate artists and historians.
This Roman imperial coin is in spectacular condition. It was minted in Smyrna (present-day Turkey) during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus, also known as Caracalla. Although the emperor's portrait is an excellent likeness, I am drawn to the details on the coin's reverse. This image and inscription indicate that Smyrna is "three times neokoros (temple-warden)", a source local pride. I love historic coins because they remind me of the continued culture significance of the decorations of human currency. The U.S. has serious discussions about changing the the "face" of a dollar that can result in heated debates.
This painting is not only a beautiful work of art that captures the uniqueness of each emperor from Emperor Zhaodi (94-74 B.C.) to Emperor Yangdi (569-618 A.D.) but also preserves Chinese national history. The colors on this silk tapestry are beautiful, and the artists humorously depicted more accomplished emperors as better looking and bigger than the less successful emperors. I like the personality of the work and the real investment the artist put into its creation.
I like the nobility and majesty that accompanies this eighth-century weapon. Its historical and religious significance has made the lance precious across Europe because it was believed to be the lance of Longinus, who wounded Christ in the side after Christ's death on the cross. This relic help solidify the Holy Roman Empire's legitimacy against the Byzantine church. The golden sleeve shows just how valuable this lance was to people.
This leather case served a real function as protective storage for the royal crown, but its intricate decoration illustrates the nobility of the owner of the case, and the aesthetic quality is stunning. Leather was chosen for the case precisely for its possibilities for decoration. This piece is a relic of the beauty of traditional leather carving.
This oil on canvas is one of the first standing state portraits, a genre which is one of the most influential modes in the history of Western art. The technical work is stunning because of his high-precision details and emotional quality that make Alfonso appear noble, earnest, intelligent, and authoritative. The artist successfully captures the spirit of an imperial leader.
This scroll demonstrates the glamour and regality of the Ottoman Empire's leaders. The Arabic calligraphy flows smoothly, and the gold border and ink are decadent yet also simple and clean. The historical context makes this piece even more moving, having been written only about a year before Sultan Ahmed II's death at a time of disease and sorrow as the empire's territory dwindled.
This trinket is full of prestige and glamour befitting an imperial toy. The details are painstakingly complex and ultimately beautiful. The little coach clearly demonstrates the lavishness of royal living.
This woodblock painting depicts the fierce battle of the Japanese Imperial Guard to conquer Taiwan. Japan's imperial expansion was a brutal process, the scars of which are still felt in Asia today. This woodblock print shows the bravery and might of Japanese soldiers and, by extension, the authority of the Japanese Emperor as a kind of political propaganda.
The Faberge works for the Russian Czar Alexander III and the royal family, especially the Easter Eggs, are widely renowned for their fine workmanship, and this box is no exception. The piece was clearly handled with care, and a close look reveals rose diamonds surrounding the oval shell of the box. This is an especially lovely work in the long history of artist commissions to portray the authority of a leader.
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