The colorful splendor of the Lady of Amra
Artwork in need of restoration at Berlin’s Museum of Islamic Art
This fresco of a female figure from the first half of the eighth century (c.730-740 CE) comes from the bathhouse of Qusayr Amra, an extraordinary Umayyad palace complex in present-day Jordan. Figurative wall and ceiling paintings in the audience hall and hammam there were part of an extensive decorative program, and they demonstrate how traditions from late antiquity survived into the early Islamic period. For that reason, the frescoes, including the fragment of a woman now in Berlin’s Museum of Islamic Art, are considered very significant works of art.
Even today, the Lady of Amra fresco remains a topic of keen interest for the fact that it questions still widespread notions that Islamic art does not depict humans. In fact, the Umayyads, Islam’s first dynasty whose realm extended from Spain in the west to Central Asia in the east, dealt intensively with late antiquity art traditions, including figurative painting.
The most recent restoration work carried out in situ at Qusayr Amra revealed the spectacular colors of the frescoes. The rich coloring of the Lady of Amra, however, awaits to be brought back to light. The costs of a preliminary study and a sample intervention by a specialist in wall-painting restoration total 6,500 euros, including additional lab tests at the Rathgen Research Laboratory. Depending on the results of the preliminary study, the conservation/restoration of the painting will most likely require a budget of between 20,000 and 30,000 euros.
Donations to support this project are greatly appreciated and may be sent to:
Freunde des Museums für Islamische Kunst im Pergamonmuseum e.V.
In the comments field, please specify “Lady of Amra” as the intended use.
The Lady of Amra fresco fragment measures 210 cm in height and 101.5 cm in width.
If you would like to know more about Qusayr Amra and its frescoes, you can read Dr. Stefan Weber’s article, "Having a Bath in the Desert", in: al-Khamis U./ Kamel S./ Weber S. (eds.): Early Capitals of Islamic Culture. The Artistic Legacy of Umayyad Damascus and Abbasid Baghdad (650–950), Munich (2014), pp. 37-38.
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Phone: +49 (0)30 26642 5201