Women Crush Wednesday: Myrtle Broome

For Women Crush Wednesday, this Egyptologist was more renowned for her illustration work of Egyptian sites. This week we are talking about Myrtle Broome.

Early Life

Myrtle Florence Broome was born on February 22, 1888, in Muswell Hill, London to Eleanor Slater and Washington Herbert Broome. Her father was a music and book publisher. She received her art training at a school in Bushey, which was founded by Sir Hubert von Herkomer.

From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.

From 1911 to 1913, she attended the University College London and obtained a certificate in Egyptology. She studied under professors Sir Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray.

Career in Egypt

In 1927, she was invited to participate in a project in Egypt by the British School of Archaeology. Here they copied tomb inscriptions at Qua-El-Kebi. Apparently, on this trip, she was smitten by the attentions of a local police officer. When he invited her to his family home, the visit was a disaster and Myrtle admitted, “it would never have worked.”

The Temple of King Sethos I at Abydos (complete in 4 vols.) [INCLUDING 231 PLATES] by Calverley, Amice; Myrtle F. Broome; Alan H. Gardiner (ed.)

In 1929, she returned to Egypt as an artist with the Canadian epigrapher Amice Calverley, who was hired by the Egypt Exploration Society to copy the wall scenes in the Temple of Seti I in Abydos, starting in 1927. A year later, the project was fully funded by Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller after they visited the site. The Oriental Institute in Chicago was also involved.

Calverley became the director of the project and hired Myrtle as her assistant. The pair of them did eight seasons together. They were responsible for all the paintings and replications. They also used large photographs to record the reliefs and later penciled over them to become more accurate. The reproductions were mainly watercolor paintings, as black and white photographs were the only ones available during this time. These were published in four volumes with colored plates between 1933 and 1958.

Painting of Amice Calverley and their car

During the projects, Myrtle and Calverley lived in a mudbrick house near the temple with two local servants. They were both actively involved in the life of the village, participating in feasts and ceremonies and often providing medical assistance to the villagers. They also traveled throughout Egypt, taking trains and often driving through the desert in a Jowett car they named Joey. Myrtle’s impressions of Egypt are noted in her letters and illustrations that she sent back to her parents. These archives are kept at the Griffith Institute in Oxford.

Their last season in 1938 and their fifth volume was interrupted because of WWII and it, unfortunately, has yet to be published.

Later Life

Myrtle retired from Egyptology in 1937. She also returned to England because her father was ill. During this time she continued to paint several watercolors of Egyptian villages and the surrounding landscape. She may have become a designer and a craft worker who designed for Liberty, a luxury department store in London. And she also went into business with her father with their business “Designed and Workers in Metal and Enamel.”

Her family home in Bushey is listed with Historic England, which is the government group that protects cultural institutions in the UK. Myrtle has created multiple painted panels and decorations throughout the home. It is now the Bushey Museum, which houses over 70 of her paintings, some of which you can see here and here.

The Bushey Museum, which was Mrytle Broome’s family home

Myrtle Broome died on January 27th, 1978.

Publications

  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1933. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume I: the chapels of Osiris, Isis and Horus. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1935. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume II: the chapels of Amen-Rē’, Rē’-Ḥarakhti, Ptaḥ, and King Sethos. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1938. The temple of king Sethos I at Abydos, Volume III: the Osiris complex. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.
  • Calverley, Amice M. and Myrtle F. Broome 1958. The temple of King Sethos I at Abydos, Volume IV: the second hypostyle hall. London; Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society; University of Chicago Press.

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrtle_Broome

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/bios/Broome_Myrtle%20Florence.pdf

https://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/results.php?d=1&first=Myrtle%20Florence&last=Broome

Image Sources

Self Portrait – Wikimedia Commons – WP:NFCC#4

Paintings from the Temple of Seti I – https://www.klinebooks.com/pages/books/42986/amice-calverley-myrtle-f-broome-alan-h-gardiner/the-temple-of-king-sethos-i-at-abydos-complete-in-4-vols-including-231-plates

The Gulf of Suez – https://en.wahooart.com/@@/AQULXT-Myrtle-Broome-The-Gulf-of-Suez

Photo of her – https://archive.griffith.ox.ac.uk/index.php/broome-correspondence

Bushy Museum – https://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/14461427.bushey-artist-gets-egypt-bug/

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