Sunday, February 17, 2013


Nomenclature: Mummy (french: momie; German: Mumie, Mumienbraun).

Characteristics: The ancient Egyptians used to embalm the bodies of the deceased and of animals regarded as sacred with aromatic herbs, resins, and copious amounts of asphaltum, which gradually permeated the entire organism and preserved it from decay. When the burial sites were later excavated, many mummies were unearthed. The remains of the bodies, intricately wrapped in bandages now more or less decayed, consisted mainly of asphaltum. It is not yet known who first thought of grinding this brown material to a fine powder and, without disguising its name, using it as a pigment. In the nineteenth century mummy was a favorite art material because for its pleasing, deep-brown shade and its characteristically fine dispersion in oil. Artists basing their painting method on a brown underpainting were tempted to use this material freely in many ways, ranging from thing glazes to opaque application. It is understandable that copyists used the color in the same manner, and the restorers of these paintings with their harmonious brown shadows naturally followed suit. Until 1925 genuine mummy was still quite a common shade in comprehensive ranges of artists' ignominiously fed into the furnaces of von Move's color factory in Berlin. He was able to secure some interesting pieces, which are still in his collection. Among partly decayed bandages, thick arteries and hollow bones can still be clearly recognized. The spaces of these were filled with pure brown-black bitumen with glossy fractures. Disrespectful greed had prompted the transport to Europe of large numbers of mummies. 

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