CHAMPOLLION, ON THE TRAIL OF HIEROGLYPHS

Louvre Lens from 28th September 2022 to 16th January 2023

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To mark the 200th anniversary of the decipherment of hieroglyphs, and to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Louvre-Lens is organising a large exhibition devoted to one of the most fascinating symbols of Egyptian civilisation: hieroglyphs. 

This writing system, which appeared in around 3300 BC, was deciphered by Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832). Drawing on the work of his predecessors, and thanks to his study of the famous Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, Champollion managed to solve one of the biggest mysteries of the civilisation of the pharaohs. The letter he wrote to Bon-Joseph Dacier (1742–1833), the Hellenist and member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in September 1822 became the key text of the decipherment of hieroglyphs. In it Champollion explains how hieroglyphic writing works, drawing on his knowledge of other forms of writing used by the ancient Egyptians, such as demotic, Greek and hieratic.

A true sacred form of writing, described by the Egyptians themselves as the “divine words”, hieroglyphic writing was used on every surface, from papyrus to stone and metal, in religious, administrative and funerary contexts.

In the exhibition, large-format works will rub shoulders with smaller objects, highlighting the wealth of both this writing system and one of humankind’s oldest civilisations. The exhibition sets out to decipher the story of Jean-François Champollion and the context – intellectual, scientific, cultural, archaeological and political – that enabled this scholar to solve the age-old secret of hieroglyphs.

Thanks to an immersive exhibition design featuring more than 350 works, embracing sculptures, paintings, objets d’art, documents and the graphic arts, this ambitious retrospective is an opportunity for the Louvre-Lens to pay tribute to the man who was the first curator of the Louvre’s Egyptian museum in the early 19th century, Jean-François Champollion.

The Mougins Museum is honoured to contribute to this project with the loan of an oil on canvas by Hubert Robert (Paris, 1733 - 1808), Farandole au milieu des monuments égyptiens (MMoCA73MA).

Exhibition poster: Portrait of Jean-François Champollion, Egyptologist
©RMN - Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) - Michel Urtado