Travelling especially abroad is off the cards at least for now. Egypt has always been a popular tourist destination. With this post we would like to travel to Egypt only with a central South African twist.
The ancient Egyptian collection in the National Museum in Bloemfontein consists of a variety of objects that were donated by various people who either visited Egypt or worked there. The time span of the objects is from the pre-Dynastic era (c 4500BC) to the Late Period (c 715-332BC). The largest number of objects currently on display in the National Museum was donated by an English Egyptologist, Guy Brunton, who excavated in Egypt during the 1920s. Brunton excavated in an area called Assyut, approximately 250km south of Cairo. It is from this site that most of the objects in the Museum’s collection originate.
The question then remains why an English Egyptologist would donate his collection to a museum in the centre of South Africa. Guy was married to Charles Newberry’s oldest daughter Winifred. Charles, also an Englishman, immigrated to South Africa in 1864 and eventually settled in the Eastern Free State near Clocolan. Winifred studied art in South Africa and at the Slade School of Art in London. Winifred illustrated many of the objects in her husband’s excavation reports, including items from Tutankhamun’s tomb discovered by Howard Carter. Her work was carried out in the early part of the 20th century and published as illustrations in two volumes consisting of Kings and Queens of Ancient Egypt (1926) and Great Ones of Ancient Egypt (1929). Today these books are highly collectable. Three of Winifred’s art works are housed in the Oliewenhuis Art Gallery, a satellite of the National Museum.
The Bruntons retired to South Africa and brought with them a large collection of Egyptian antiquities. A part of this collection was donated by Guy and Winifred to the National Museum in 1948. (Photos by Daan Olivier)
To find out more about the Newberry’s of Clocolan you can read an article by S. Havenga, Charles Newberry and the Prynnsberg legacy in Culna no. 65.
Text: Sudre Havenga l Collections Manager