OF TWO SUPERB GREEK AND ROMAN ANCIENT WORKS
LOS ANGELES - The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today the acquisition of two important works of ancient art: a Geometric Greek vase and a Roman marble head. The vase is an impressive example of the late Geometric style that marked the beginning of classical Greek art, while the marble head is part of an important Roman statue of a female figure that is already in the Getty Museum’s collection.
“We are very pleased to add these two new important works of ancient art to the Museum’s collection,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The figurative decoration on the Greek vase of the Geometric Period represents the beginning of the classical tradition in Greek art, making it an essential component of the new chronological and contextual display of the Villa’s collection that is currently in advanced planning. The acquisition of the marble head of a woman provides a rare and serendipitous opportunity to reunite the two parts of an important Roman sculpture that were somehow broken and separated around the mid twentieth century. After undergoing conservation at the Villa to join the head to the body, the completed statue, standing over seven feet tall, will represent one of the finest examples of monumental Roman imperial sculpture in our collection.”
Greek Geometric Amphora:
The two-handled, long neck amphora, impressive at 27.5 inches in height, is decorated with rows of figures and geometric patterns including meanders, waves, cables, and checkerboards. The figures on the vase include dancing women and men, a flute player, grazing horses, men in chariots, and warriors carrying round shields. Snakes molded from terracotta are added around the shoulder, rim, and band handles. The vase was made specifically for funerary use to accompany a burial and the dancing figures and chariot races are thought to depict the funeral ritual, while the snakes refer to the underworld.
The vase is one of the finest examples of the final flourishing of the Geometric period, around 720-700 B.C., when the first appearance of human figures marks the beginning of classical Greek art. The excellent quality of the decorative patterns and figures allows the vase to be attributed to the so-called Philadelphia Painter, an anonymous artist whose name piece is in the collection of the University Museum in Philadelphia. Other works by this painter are in Brussels, Berlin, Bern, and Athens.
The vase was first documented in a private collection in Düsseldorf before 1963, published several times, and exhibited in Kassel, Germany from 1963 to 1964.
Partial funding for the purchase of this object was made possible by the Getty Museum’s Villa Council.
Roman Marble Head:
The second acquisition is a late 2nd century AD portrait, an over-life-size marble head of an older patrician woman. The style of her hair is of the late Antonine period, around AD 175, and similar to a Roman monumental sculpture of Empress Faustina that is in the Getty’s collection. The identity of the female figure is unknown, but the large scale of the head suggests that she was of exceptionally high stature. The fleshy features of the face and the carefully detailed eyes, typical of Roman portrait sculpture of the period, underscore the object’s high quality. After undergoing conservation at the Getty Villa, it will be re-joined to the Getty’s Statue of Draped Female, which is currently in storage.
The statue when intact was at the Palazzo Sciarra Colonna di Carbognano in Rome before 1881, when it was first published. In 1937, it was among a group of works offered for sale to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. Sometime between 1937 and 1972, when the Getty purchased the body of the statue, the head and body were separated. Once in a French collection, the head was subsequently sold to dealers in Seville and Switzerland, before it was bought by a dealer in New York, who sold it to the Getty.
Both acquisitions will go on display in 2018 following the reinstallation of the Getty Villa.
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