A History of Art in Ancient Egypt
that research into detail which distinguishes most imitative art and is
to be found even in that
of their immediate successors; and yet, during all those long
centuries of alternate renascence and decay, we find no vestige of an
attempt to raise art above imitation. No suspicion of its expressive
power seems to have dawned on the Egyptian mind, which, so far as
the plastic arts were concerned, never produced anything that in the
language of modern criticism could be called a creation. In this
particular Egypt is more closely allied to those nations of the far east
whose art does not come within the scope of M. Perrot's inquiry, than
to the great civilizations which formed its own posterity.
Before the late troubles intervened to draw attention of a different
kind to the Nile Valley, the finding of a pit full of royal mummies and
sepulchral objects in the western mountain at Thebes had occurred to
give a fresh stimulus to the interest in Egyptian history, and to
encourage those who were doing their best to lead England to take
her proper share in the work of exploration. A short account of this
discovery, which took place after M. Perrot's book was complete, and
of some of the numerous art objects with which it has enriched the
Boulak Museum, will be found in an Appendix to the second volume.
My acknowledgments for generous assistance are due to Dr. Birch,
Mr. Reginald Stuart Poole, and Miss A. B. Edwards.