I have almost given up all my Google Alerts with “Isis” in them due to the horrors that have too frequently arrived in my inbox with those tags. But I kept one: “Goddess Isis”.

And yesterday, finally, some good news came in and made my inbox happy.

Apparently, there was a recent conference at the Italian Cultural Institute in Cairo in which scholar Marco Ruggiero talked about vestiges of Isis worship in and around Naples. While the summary provided in the article (link below) is interesting, I would love to have a transcript of the whole talk. If we’re lucky, maybe it will show up on academia.edu.

Frederick Arthur Bridgman, A Procession in Honor of Isis or An Egyptian Procession, 1902
Frederick Arthur Bridgman, A Procession in Honor of Isis or An Egyptian Procession, 1902. Click on the image to see all the details; it is worth doing, I promise.

As you’ll see when you click through, this is the image used to illustrate the article. I was aware of this painting and have even used it on Isiopolis before, but I didn’t really know anything about it. So I thought I’d look it up.

Born in 1847, Bridgman was an American painter famous for his “Orientalist” subjects. He mostly worked in Paris (it was THE place to be an artist at the time) but he did travel to Egypt, where he made hundreds of sketches that would later become paintings like this one.

Apparently, the original of this painting was called Procession en l’honneur d’Isis, (“Procession in Honor of Isis“) and won great acclaim when it was first exhibited in Paris. We don’t know where that painting is at present. This one, An Egyptian Procession, Bridgman painted as a variation on the Isis one, though it, too, must be intended as an Isis procession since Isis’ Philae temple is in the background.

Catalog notes from Sotheby’s says of the painting, “Bridgman made sketches at the fabled site [Philae] first in 1874 and again during his numerous subsequent visits to the region; these, combined with his diligent research into the manners and customs of the ancient Egyptians, allowed him to create a remarkably vibrant—if ultimately over-embellished—scene of ritual and revel. It is worth noting that the setting of Bridgman’s picture would have been particularly resonant in 1902—this was the year that the Aswan Low Dam was built by the British, threatening the monuments at Philae by changing the rise and fall of the surrounding Nile River.”

So there are your Isis art notes for the day. Now on to the article: Here’s the link.