This politely titled exhibition tells the tale of the man who was integral in helping the museum form its Egyptian collection in the early 20th century. Breasted, who was the founder of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and a friend of the Art Institute’s then-president, Charles L. Hutchinson, took trips to Egypt to explore possible archeological sites and buy ancient works for the newly established Oriental Institute. On one of those trips in 1919, he agreed to be a purchasing agent for the Art Institute.
Breasted acquired bronzes, funerary fragments, plaques, and other pieces on behalf of the museum, often in dramatic fashion. When he found out that representatives from the Metropolitan Museum of Art were on their way to view Statuette of a Jackal, he paid for the piece with his own money because they surely would have “snapped [it] up.” He also searched far and wide to ensure he was purchasing the highest quality of work. He referred to Wall Fragment from the Tomb of Amenemhet and His Wife Hemet (above) as “one of the finest pieces I ever saw.” These works—along with more information on Breasted—are on view until August 29 in Gallery 154.