Some Statuary Worth Visiting

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve learned of a couple of  bits of statuary folks might want to check out if they’re ‘in the neighbourhood’ … first is the so-called Fauno Rosso at the Nelson-Atkins MoA  . Here’s a bit from their page:

He is an unkempt creature of the wild, with shaggy hair and goat-like characteristics–pointed ears, a short tail and dewlaps–and he is delighted to raise high a cluster of freshly picked grapes. The red–marble Fauno rosso, a spectacular example of ancient Roman sculpture, will be on view for the first time ever in America, thanks to a new relationship between the city of Rome and the Nelson-Atkins. Through September 30, visitors to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art can view the sculpture in Kirkwood Hall, which has been transformed into a classic Roman palazzo.

The loan is part of a program of exchanges and cultural events that was launched with the support of the Embassy of Italy in 2011, called The Dream of Rome, a collaboration between the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Enel Green Power and the Knights of Columbus. Through The Dream of Rome, some of Rome’s masterpieces will be on display in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Kansas City.

… in case it isn’t familiar:

 

Also of note is that seated boxer at the Met which is only around for another week or so. From their official page:

The bronze statue Boxer at Rest was excavated in Rome in 1885 on the south slope of the Quirinal Hill near the ancient Baths of Constantine, where it is thought to have been displayed. The statue was intentionally buried in late antiquity, possibly to preserve it against the barbarian invasions that ravaged Rome in the fifth century A.D. The broad-shouldered, lanky pugilist is depicted just after a match sitting on a boulder to rest after the unnerving tension of the fight. Something catches his eye and makes him turn his head: perhaps the applause of the spectators or the entrance of his next opponent?

In his athletic nakedness, he wears only boxing gloves and a sort of athletic suspender (kynodèsme) that was both protective and an element of decorum. The many wounds to his head, the primary target in ancient Greek boxing matches, make clear that he has just completed a match. Blood, represented by inlaid copper, drips from cuts on his forehead, cheeks, and cauliflower ears. His right eye is swollen and bruised. His nose is broken, and he breathes through his mouth, probably because his nostrils are blocked by blood. His inwardly drawn lips are scarred, likely indicating that his teeth have been pushed in or knocked out. Despite his exhaustion, the muscles in his arms and legs are still tense, as if the battered champion were ready to spring up and face a new combatant. [...]

Even if you can’t get to it, you definitely should check out the article at Now at the Met: The Boxer: An Ancient Masterpiece Comes to the Met, which, inter alia, includes this great photo of its find spot on the Quirinal back in 1885:

… which could possibly inspire some Classical memes?

Pass the Fig Leaf

The incipit of an AFP item (via Google):

Greece has pulled two ancient statues from an ongoing Olympic Games exhibition in Qatar in a dispute over nudity, a culture ministry source said on Tuesday.

“The statues have already returned to Greece,” a culture ministry source told AFP, adding: “Organisers in Qatar wanted to cover up the statues’ members with black cloth. So they were never put on display, they went back into storage and returned on April 19.”

The statues — an archaic-era Greek youth and a Roman-era copy of a Classical athlete — are both nude, the manner in which Olympic athletes competed in antiquity.

Greece’s junior minister for culture Costas Tzavaras had travelled to the Qatari capital of Doha for the opening of the exhibit on March 27, saying it opened a “bridge of friendship” between the two countries.

According to the culture ministry, Greece has contributed nearly 600 exhibits from the National Archaeological Museum, the Numismatic Museum and the Museum of Olympia, birthplace of the Games.

The Doha exhibit runs to June 30.

A similar exhibit had previously been hosted in Berlin.[...]

… and just for comparanda: It Doesn’t Play in San Antonio Redux (October, 2012).

Grumbling About the Lod Mosaic Exhibit

I’m sure this sort of thing could be said about a number of exhibitions … from the Daily Pennsylvanian:

The “Lod Mosaic” at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has garnered a lot of praise, but has also drawn criticism from Penn faculty.

The mosaic is on the last part of its tour in the United States. After the exhibits ends on May 12, it will head to the Louvre museum in Paris.

Limited information is known about the history of the Lod Mosaic, but a number of Penn faculty have voiced concern that the piece is presented without any archaeological context. “We don’t want to celebrate a master work in isolation,” said Professor of Roman architecture Lothar Haselberger, who initiated the conversation on how the mosaic is presented.

“Nothing is conveyed to the public that [the mosaic] is more than a carpet,” Haselberger said, referencing the fact that mosaics like the “Lod Mosaic” were popular in this time period as floor decorations in many buildings.

“This is an exhibit that really focuses on the meticulous conservation by the Israel Antiquities Authority of a dazzling Roman mosaic that was found during highway construction,” said Brian Rose, Curator-in-Charge of the Mediterranean Section at the Penn Museum.

On March 28, Haselberger met with colleagues from the Penn Museum, as well as the art history, classics and building conservation departments to draft and submit a statement to the Director of the Penn Museum, Julian Siggers, outlining their critiques on the exhibit.

Haselberger said they are still waiting on final approval, but that sometime this week the statement will be published on the Penn Museum’s website and will be featured on a poster set up in conjunction with the exhibit.

In 1996, the Israeli government was expanding the highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv when they unearthed the remains of a Roman villa dating to about 300 A.D. — now known as the “Lod Mosaic”. “It took 13 years to assemble the money to excavate and conserve the mosaic,” Rose said, making this a prime example of “rescue archaeology.”

Jacob Fisch, executive director of the Israel Antiquities Authority — the group that has custody over the mosaic — said this critique of the exhibit was a first for him, but he does not see it as a serious issue.

“The theory behind what he says is relevant,” Fisch said, but he said the mosaic will be shown in its original context and location when it returns to Lod, Israel after its tour, where it is to be permanently housed in a new museum exclusively devoted to the mosaic.

The new Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center will be open to the public in 2014, but Fisch pointed out that not everyone would have the opportunity to visit the mosaic in Israel. The benefit of this tour is that “you can see an incredible work of art produced 6,000 miles away from 2,000 years ago,” he said.

Siggers agreed that he didn’t see a problem with the presentation of the mosaic’s context. He described the exhibit as a “story in progress” that displays the immediate story of the discovery and conservation of the mosaic itself.

Additionally, since very little information is actually known about the context of the mosaic, “It is presented in the fullest context we have the ability to do,” Rose said.

While it can’t be known for sure, Rose said that the mosaic likely came from the reception room of a villa owned by a wealthy businessman.

“It’s very possible that the combination of fish and exotic animals point to the fact that the owner was a wealthy Roman who lived in Lod and who somehow dabbled in supplying animals to the gladiator games,” Fisch said. Rose agreed that this is the theory that most experts have agreed upon so far.

Next year, an excavation report will be published to provide an “in-depth exploration of this mosaic in the context of the Roman world,” Siggers said.

Haselberger added that he is glad that the faculty were able to “articulate misgivings in a collegiate and forward-looking way” so that the debate surrounding the mosaic can be used as a teaching and learning opportunity.

“I’m happy to say that I initiated the conversation on this and I’m happy to see that we seem to come to a reasonable result,” he said.