Venice and Egypt: Millenium Relation

The exhibition held in Venice in the Sala dello Scrutinio of the Doge’s Palace illustrates the relationship between Venice and Egypt over almost two millennia. From the transfer of the evangelist’s Saint Mark’s body from Alexandria in 828 to the nineteenth century adventures of explorers from the vicissitudes of merchants and diplomats on the trail of goods, treasures and lands to oddities regarding humanists and scientists tackling the mysteries of hieroglyphs, of pyramids and of the ancient science of the pharaohs, all accompanied by precious finds, previously unseen texts and works of art which show how the great Venetian masters – from Giorgione to Titian, from Tintoretto to Tiepolo, from Amigoni to Strozzi, from Piranesi to Caffi – imagined Egypt. The Napoleonic invasion of Egypt and the subsequent scholarly interest led to a real Egypt boom. A vivid picture of contiguity, familiarity and relations between different worlds emerges from the sections in which the exhibition is laid out: countries of different languages, traditions, customs and religions which, however, were capable of originating what may be defined as a “Mediterranean civilization”. The contacts date from over two thousand years ago and the Venice was the key port for backward early medieval Europe toward the advanced Middle-East region.