Isa Posing as a Cleopatra
Orkney, 1983
scan from a 8×10 inch negative

 This is where it began for me – the chance confluence of a friend’s daughter, wanting to be photographed with ‘the big old-fashioned camera’, and me wondering about the quality of light in ancient Egyptian royal spaces.

This is becoming a strange journey.

Today, a book arrived: “The Mysterious Fayum Portraits: Faces from Ancient Egypt”, by Euphrosyne Doxiadis. (Who, by the way, is also a painter)

I quote from page 126 of this exquisite study:

C. P. Cavafy, ‘Evrion’s Tomb’:

In this elaborate monument,
Entirely of syenite stone,
Heaped with so many violets, so many lilies
Is buried beautiful Evrion.
Alexandrian boy, twenty-five,
Descended, on his father’s side, from an old Macedonian family;
On his mother’s, from a line of administrators serving in Egypt.
He was a student of philosophy under Aristokleitos
And of rhetoric under Paros. In Thebes
He studied the holy writings. He wrote
The history of the Arsinoite nome. That will at least remain.
But we have lost what was most prized — his face
Like an Apollonian vision.

 

 The light, the light…. we are always loosing it, and that is how we choose to describe the precious face: aglow, Apollonian. Wherever you are, Isa, thanks for this photograph.

PS: I am referring to Cleopatra VII ~ for all you Ancient Art Historians out there… 🙂