Etienne Bonneau (x-1881)
[Etienne Bonneau du Martray]
The Isis of the ancient Egyptians was universal throughout Egypt, particularly at Philae and at Bubastis on the Nile, and
the annual inundations of that stream were supposed to be caused by her tears. At her death
the Egyptians believed that she was translated to the heavens and reincarnated int he star Sothis, which we know as Sirius
or the Dog Star. Isis was served in her temples by priestesses of her own sex, one of whom the painter represents,
enthroned at the foot of an altar, on the brink of the fountain or pond of the temple. Her long hair is plaited in narrow plaits; on her forehead she
wears a golden serpent, the symbol of eternity, and she reposes on the skin of a
leopard, one of the innumerable animals sacred to the Egyptian gods. The birds
at her feet are sacred ibises, which, like cats, were held to be especially holy
members of the world of nature, and were cherished and protected in the temples.
Etienne Bonneau was a native of Chanteloup in the Nievre, and his great talent
and rapid progress made him a favorite pupil with his master, Alexandre Cabanel.
He died young, in 1881, but had already made a high mark and was regarded and regretted
as one of the coming leaders in modern French art.
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