Giovanni Battista Belzoni(1778-1823), Performing artist and Egyptologist
Sitter in 3 portraits
Italian-born Belzoni moved to England in 1803 where he found work for a time as a strongman, actor and conjuror at fairs and theatres around the country. He travelled to Egypt having persuaded Mehmet Ali, Pasha of Egypt, that he could build a water-wheel superior to the traditional Egyptian machine. He built the wheel, but the Pasha rejected it and Belzoni was left destitute. John Lewis Burckhardt then employed Belzoni to remove the colossal bust of Ramesses II and transport it to England. This led to a third career for him as an Egyptologist, and he went on to excavate at Thebes, uncover four new tombs in the Valley of the Kings and discover the entrance to the second pyramid at Giza.
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.
Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.