A Collector’s Eye: Freer in Egypt

A short distance from the steps of the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, rises the Washington Monument, one of the city’s most distinct icons and an embodiment of America’s attraction to Egypt’s ancient past. Like many cultured nineteenth-century Americans, Charles Lang Freer was intrigued by ancient Egypt. Between 1906 and 1909, he visited the country three times on his way to destinations further east. These voyages were crucial in nurturing his interest in ancient Egyptian art, which to him was the “greatest art in the world.” During these years, he acquired a range of works, including the renowned Washington Codex—one of the oldest Bibles in the world—a digital copy of which will be on view in the gallery. He also collected an exceptional group of New Kingdom Egyptian glass vessels, a Byzantine jewelry set, amulets, and hundreds of beads, many of which will be seen in this exhibition for the first time.