Egyptian Art and Monuments. Armours and Knights.
Entering the Museum we find ourselves in an impressive hall. At the right is the beginning of the series of rooms devoted to the Egyptian section (ill. no. 3), the central feature of which is the "Tomb of Perneb,"2 the most imposing Egyptian monument that has come to any museum.
This tomb of a dignitary who lived about 2650 B.C., originally stood in the cemetery at Memphis and was shipped, block by block, to New York, where it was re-erected in 1916. The Egyptians thought of the deceased as living in their tombs accompanied by a "double" and that it was necessary for them to have food and drink; provision for these was made in the tomb and is shown on the walls of some of the chambers where the colored decorations are still in good condition.
Passing to the left, through the series of Egyptian rooms, we come to the Armor Hall' (ill. no. 2). The mounted knights in the centre give a good idea of the brilliant and colorful pageant of the period. The high point of armor making was in the XVth century, shortly after the Crusades and before the widespread use of fire-arms.
This period includes the War of the Roses, Joan of Arc, Louis XI and the struggles in Florence and other Italian cities during the Renaissance. Note the difference in accoutrement between the mount of the first knight in his tilting armor, pre-pared for jousting, and those behind him, equipped for real battle.
Exhibits of special interest at the right of the hall include the basinet (helmet) supposed to have been worn by Joan of Arc about 1400, early chain armor, and a Burgundian tapestry which depicts the "Siege of Jerusalem." European arms and armor are continued in the far gallery, H8, containing richly decorated harnesses and arms of the middle and second half of the XVIth century and including a number of historical objects.
Among these are the embossed half-armor of the Duke of Alva (case 1o4), an engraved and gilded half-armor of one of the de' Medici (case 100), two suits of Sir James Scudamore, a gentleman of the court of Queen Elizabeth (cases 94 and 95), and a number of round shields for parade, richly engraved, gilded and embossed.
Coming back through the main armor hall we pass a Rhodian tent of the XVIth century which was probably used on some battlefield. Beyond is an armorer's workshop, showing the various tools used not only in days gone by but actually to-day by the man employed by the Museum to care for this collection.
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