was a British
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
Egyptologist, art historian and author.
Cyril Aldred was born in Fulham
Fulham is an area of southwest London in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, SW6 located south west of Charing Cross. It lies on the left bank of the Thames, between Putney and Chelsea. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London...
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...
, the son of Frederick Aldred and Lilian Ethel Underwood (Aldred) the 6th of 7 children (5 boys, 2 girls).
Aldred attended Sloane School, in Chelsea, and studied English at King's College London
King's College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London. King's has a claim to being the third oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, and...
, and then art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art
The Courtauld Institute of Art is a self-governing college of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art. The Courtauld is one of the premier centres for the teaching of art history in the world; it was the only History of Art department in the UK to be awarded a top...
. While a student, he met Howard Carter
Howard Carter may refer to:* Howard Carter , English archaeologist who discovered Tutankhamun's tomb* Howard Carter , American basketball player...
, the archaeologist who discovered the Tutankhamen tomb, in 1933, and this meeting was to determine the future direction of his career. He graduated from the Courtauld in 1936. In 1937, he became an assistant curator at the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...
where he worked for the remainder of his professional life.
In 1938 he married Jessie Kennedy Morton (b. 1909), a physiotherapist. During World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
, Aldred served in the RAF, returning to Edinburgh in 1946, to undertake a serious study of Egyptology
Egyptology is the study of ancient Egyptian history, language, literature, religion, and art from the 5th millennium BC until the end of its native religious practices in the AD 4th century. A practitioner of the discipline is an “Egyptologist”...
In 1949, his book Old Kingdom Art in Ancient Egypt
was published and was followed by volumes on the middle and new kingdoms in 1950 and 1952. These publications established his career as an Egyptologist and art historian. He also contributed essays on Egyptian woodwork and furniture as a part of the Oxford History of Technology in 1954 and 1956. In 1955, he worked as an associate curator for a year in the department of Egyptian art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...
, New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...
, with the curator, William C. Hayes. During his time at the Met, Aldred used his artistic eye to dramatically improve the presentation of the exhibitions and helped identify and catalogue a number of previously overlooked artifacts in storage. In 1956, Aldred returned to the Royal Scottish Museum to enhance the Egyptology team and in 1961 he was promoted to keeper of art and archaeology, a post which he held until his retirement in 1974. During his time at the RSM, he not only gave lectures but also made significant purchases and helped the museum vastly improve not only the Egyptology displays but also the West African and South Sea's sections.
Aldred's book "Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt", was published in 1968. "Jewels of the Pharaohs" appeared in 1971, published by Thames and Hudson. His most significant art-historical writing of the period was the catalogue he wrote for the Brooklyn Museum exhibition, "Akhenaten and Nefertiti" in 1973.
Aldred retired in 1974, but his writing continued. Beginning in 1978, Aldred wrote studies for the French "L'univers des formes" surveys of Egyptian art (other volumes appearing in 1979 and 1980). In 1980, Aldred published "Egyptian Art", although another intended book on Egyptian sculpture was never published. The Times Educational Supplement said of Egyptian Art "His eloquent ability to weave facts, insights and interpretations into a compulsively readable account sets his book far above the clogged texts that too often pass for art history"
In 1988, he enlarged his 1968 text in "Akhenaten, King of Egypt" with later findings.
He died peacefully at his home in Edinburgh in 1991 but is remembered as one of the leading characters in improving archaeology in Scotland at the Burrell Collection
The Burrell Collection is an art collection in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. It is situated in Pollok Country Park on the south side of the city.-History:...
- James, Thomas Garnet H. "Cyril Aldred." Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 78 (1992): 258–66;
- Waterston, Charles D. "Cyril Aldred." Year Book of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1990–91): 32–4;
- Goring, Elizabeth, and Reeves, Charles Nicholas and Ruffle, John, eds. "Chief of Seers: Egyptian Studies in Memory of Cyril Aldred". New York: Kegan Paul International, 1997;
- The Independent July 6, 1991;
- The Times (London) July 6, 1991;
- James, Thomas Garnet H. "Aldred, Cyril (1914-1991)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
- [collected articles] Ancient Egypt in the Metropolitan Museum Journal, Volumes 1-11 (1968–1976): Articles. [ by Cyril Aldred].
- New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977; "The Development of Ancient Egyptian Art: from 3200 to 1315 B. C." 3 vols. London : A. Tiranti, 1952;
- New Kingdom Art in Ancient Egypt During the Eighteenth Dynasty, 1590 to 1315 B. C. Published: London, A. Tiranti, 1951;
- Akhenaten and Nefertiti. New York: Brooklyn Museum/Viking Press, 1973;
- Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt: a New Study. London: Thames & Hudson, 1968;
- Egypt to the End of the Old Kingdom. London: Thames and Hudson, 1965;
- Jewels of the Pharaohs: Egyptian Jewellery of the Dynastic Period. London: Thames and Hudson, 1971;
- Middle Kingdom Art in Ancient Egypt, 2300-1590 B.C. London: A. Tiranti, 1950;
- Old kingdom Art in Ancient Egypt. London: A. Tiranti, 1949;
- The Egyptians. London: Thames and Hudson, 1961;
- "The Pharaoh Akhenaten: a Problem in Egyptology and Pathology." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 36, no. 4 (July–August 1962): 293-316;
- L'univers des formes [series]:
- L'Égypte du crépuscule: de Tanis à Méroé, 1070 av. J.-C.-IVe siècle. Paris: Gallimard, 1980;
- L'Empire des conquérants: l'Égypte au Nouvel Empire (1560-1070). Paris: Gallimard, 1979;
- Le Temps des pyramides: de la préhistoire aux Hyksos, 1560 av. J.-C. Paris: Gallimard, 1978.