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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), preparatory study for Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

THIS STUDY BY Picasso in bodycolour and watercolour was one of many leading up to his famous painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Museum of Modern Art, New York). Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was the most difficult and revolutionary work of Picasso’s career, and it profoundly disconcerted even his supporters when first exhibited in 1916.
Bronze model of a human head

THIS IS one of three small bronze models of men’sfaces that decorated a wooden bucket (probably to contain alcoholic drink) found in a Late Iron Age cremation burial. The grave probably belonged to someone of great importance and wealth,perhaps even a king or queen. It also contained two bronze jugs, a bronze pan, twoRoman silver cups, five Roman wine amphorae and many pots.
Mummy portrait of Artemidorus


THIS MUMMY IS a reflection of three great influences on Egyptian culture: native Pharaonic traditions, Greece, and Rome.
Bronze head

THIS HEAD WAS once part of a full-length statue. It depicts a man of middle age, with a thick beard, slightly thinning hair and a severe expression, enhanced by a deeply wrinkled brow. His hair is bound by a ribbon, signifying he is a poet. Once thought to represent the poet Homer, this has now been identified as a ‘portrait’ of the Athenian dramatist Sophokles, made long after his death.
Marble statue of a tirthankara

THE INDIAN FAITH of Jainism arose at around the same time as Buddhism. Its followers believe in a series of 24 tirthankaras. The title tirthankara means ‘ford-maker’ and refers to these individuals making ‘fords' that allow their followers to cross over from suffering and pain to happiness and perfect knowledge. They are also called Jinas, or ‘conquerors’ because they have conquered and controlled their desires and attained a state of inner enlightenment.
Diorite statue, probably of Gudea of Lagash

Around 2159 bc the Akkadian state in southern Mesopotamia collapsed and the area reverted to city-states under local rulers. The best known of these is Gudea, ruler of Lagash (in modern Iraq) from around 2120-2100 вс. He was a prolific builder and some of the longest and earliest Sumerian literary texts were written during his reign. It is also recorded that he imported stone from Magan (probably modern Oman) and commissioned numerous statues of himself for dedication in his temples.
Discus-thrower (discobolos)


THIS MARBLE STATUE is a Roman copy of a bronze original, now lost, attributed to the Greek sculptor Myron (fl. 470-440 вс). It captures the moment before the discus is released and illustrates the classical ideal of rhythmos, or harmony and balance.
Toshusai Sharaku,The Actors Nakamura Wadaemon and Nakamura Konozo


THE ARTIST Toshusai Sharaku is only known to have produced works for a brief period of ten months between 1794 and 1795. Very little is known of him before or after this period and his identity is the object of much conjecture among historians of Japanese art.
Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Dancers Practising at the Barre


DEGAS BEGAN STUDYING dancers in the 1870s and they became a principal motif in his work. He frequently visited the back stage and public areas of the Opera building in Paris where the ballet was performed.
Limestone statue of an unnamed nobleman and his wife

THIS PAIR-STATUE depicts a seated husband and wife. There is no inscription on the statue, perhaps indicating it remained unfinished, so the names of the couple are unknown. It is not known where their statue originated, though a number of similar statues have been found in Saqqara. The style of the figures, and their elaborate wigs and pleated robes, are characteristic of sculpture of the later years of the Eighteenth Dynasty, around the reign of Amenhotep III (1390-1352 вс), and the early years of the Nineteenth Dynasty (begins 1295 вс).