Getty Returns Head of Hades

… and we didn’t know it was missing! From a Getty press release (sent directly to me!):

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today plans to voluntarily return a terracotta head to Sicily representing the god Hades and dating to about 400–300 B.C. The Museum acquired the sculpture in 1985.

Joint research with colleagues in Sicily over the past two years has yielded previously unknown information on the likely provenance of the sculpture suggesting that it was appropriate to return the object. In keeping with the principle of repatriating works when compelling evidence warrants it, the decision to transfer this head is based on the discovery of four terracotta fragments found near Morgantina in Sicily, similar in style and medium to the Getty head. Getty Museum curators initiated discussions with Sicilian colleagues on the possible relationship between the head and the fragments in 2011, and then worked with the director of the Morgantina Archaeological Park to corroborate the identification. These fragments indicate that the original location of the head was the site of a sanctuary of Demeter, which was clandestinely excavated in the late 1970s.

“The Getty greatly values its relationship with our Sicilian colleagues, which culminated in the 2010 Cultural Collaboration Agreement,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “This collaboration has brought significant opportunities for scholarly dialogue, joint conservation projects, and loans, most notably the ‘Charioteer’ from Mozia that is currently undergoing a thorough seismic conservation assessment and remounting in our conservation studios.”

According to Enrico Caruso, director of the Parco Archeologico di Morgantina, “Close collaboration with the Getty’s curators and conservators on the examination of the head has allowed us to give a name to the sanctuary shrine where several fragments of its curls of hair were found in 1978, as well as a name to the Getty’s anonymous sculpture. It is Hades, god of the Underworld, the terracotta body of which is in the course of an extensive restoration in the Archaeological Museum in Aidone.”

The head will be transferred to the Museo Archeologico in Aidone after it goes on display in the Getty-organized traveling exhibition Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome. The exhibition will be on view at the Getty Villa from April 3 to August 19, 2013, the Cleveland Museum of Art from September 30, 2013 to January 5, 2014, and will end at the Palazzo Ajutamicristo in Palermo from February to June 2014. The head is currently on view at the Getty Villa as part of the special installation The Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone at Morgantina until January 21, 2013.

See David Gill’s commentary as well:

Getty Gets Some Relief

From a Getty Press Release:

THe J Paul Getty Museum Logo taken from a carv...

THe J Paul Getty Museum Logo taken from a carving at the museum. Photo taken on November 24, 2006 by Brian Davis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The J. Paul Getty Museum today placed on view a Decree Relief with Antiochos and Herakles, the first Greek loan to arise from a 2011 framework for cultural cooperation between the Getty and the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture.

On loan from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the marble relief bears a historical decree, dated to 330 B.C., which honors Prokleides, a military officer (taxiarch) in the Athenian army. The relief will be on view at the Getty Villa for three years in a second-floor gallery devoted to Religious Offerings.

The relief takes the form of a stele, a stone slab decorated with images and text, crowned with the figures of Herakles and his son Antiochos, who was the mythical hero of the tribe Antiochis. Herakles is depicted as an athletic nude, holding a club and the pelt of the Nemean Lion he vanquished, referring to the first of the twelve labors he had to perform. Seemingly the elder, Antiochos wears a dignified mantle and holds a staff (no longer visible, but probably added in pigment). Both father and son heroes were the subject of cult worship, and are shown standing within a small temple framed by columns and a pediment.

Written in ancient Greek below the figures, an inscription describes the honors bestowed upon Prokleides by his soldiers and comrades, all members of an elite infantry corps known as the epilektoi. This is the earliest known inscription referencing the epilektoi, a group of men bound together by their military service, participation in sacrifices and theatrical performances, and membership in the Athenian Council. According to the decree, Kephisokles of the village of Alopeke proposed the resolution to praise Prokleides, who “has well and with distinction taken care of security,” and crown him with a gold diadem worth at least 1,000 drachmas (an enormous sum, considering the average worker in classical Athens could support a family of four on one drachma a day).

Soon after arriving at the Getty, the stele was photographed using a technique that captures the object numerous times with varying degrees of raking light. The resulting composed image reveals the shallow lettering with unprecedented depth and clarity and enables a more accurate reading of the inscription. A transcription of the ancient Greek text, translation, and detail photography of the historical inscription accompanies the installation.

“The Antiochos relief commemorates the affection and respect of troops for their commanding officer,” explains Claire Lyons, acting senior curator of antiquities at the Getty Villa. “We are delighted that it will be on view at the Getty Villa in time for Memorial Day, when we honor the contributions of fallen soldiers to their communities and country.”

This long-term loan results from the Framework for Cultural Cooperation signed in September 2011, which provides for joint scholarship, research projects, loans, and exhibitions between the Getty and the Hellenic Republic. “As part of this framework of cooperation between the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture and the Getty Museum, we are pleased to have the Antiochos relief on display at the Getty Villa,” said Maria Vlazaki-Andreadaki, director general of archaeology in Athens. “We believe that this collaboration will promote classical studies in the United States and will spread the values and the spirit of ancient Greek civilization.”

Historical Background

The relief was discovered in 1922 in the foundations of a house in the Athenian neighborhood of Dourgouti. In antiquity, the area was known as Kynosarges and was the site of a public gymnasium and a sanctuary of Herakles, the greatest of the Greek heroes. Believed to have stood in this sanctuary, where several other inscriptions mentioning the tribe Antiochis were found, the relief was a votive dedication erected in a prominent public location befitting a successful military leader.

The Antiochos relief is a primary document of democracy, and the language of its inscription shows that voting and public speech were deeply ingrained in civic life two centuries after the foundation of democratic political institutions in Athens.

The creation of the Attic tribes was the most important feature of the revolutionary reorganization of Athenian politics that followed the overthrow of the tyrants in 508 B.C. In this system, ten tribes composed of approximately 3,000 citizens and their families were created. Each tribe was assigned the name of a mythical Athenian hero: Antiochos was the eponymous hero of the tribe Antiochis.

Drawn from villages in three distinct zones of the Athenian territory—the coast, the inland farming region, and the urban/suburban zone—the tribes represented the entire citizenry of Athens. Josiah Ober, Professor of Political Science and Classics at Stanford University, observes: “Imagine a reorganization of the United States that would require citizens from Maine, Texas, and California to work, fight, and feast together on a regular basis. The communities constituting the tribe of Antiochis included Alopeke, the philosopher Socrates’ home village—so we might even imagine that a descendant of Socrates as among the signatories to the decree.” [...]

… the original press release has a smallish image of the relief (the images link doesn’t work!). Art Daily has one that’s rather better:

… which made me think of this, for some reason:

The Art of Ancient Greek Theater @ the Getty

From a Getty Press release:

The Art of Ancient Greek Theater, on view at the Getty Villa from August 26, 2010 – January 3, 2011, is the first exhibition in the United States in over fifty years to focus on the artistic representation of theatrical performance in ancient Greece. Assembling international loans of antiquities from many museums and private collections, the exhibition illustrates the ways in which dramatic performance was depicted in the visual arts of ancient Greece between the fifth and the first centuries B.C. The exhibition is being presented in conjunction with the Getty Villa’s annual outdoor theater performance, Sophocles’ Elektra.

“Ancient art and theater share a strong and enduring connection–one that is inspired by mythology and the social, cultural, and political realities of life in ancient Greece and Rome,” says David Bomford, acting director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “With this exhibition and our annual production in the outdoor theater, we are delighted to bring ancient theater alive at the Getty Villa and invite our visitors to join us and discover how those themes found in ancient times persist today.”

The Art of Ancient Greek Theater spans centuries of artistic production throughout the cities of the Mediterranean. The exhibition showcases magnificent Athenian and South Italian vases as well as significant marble reliefs and numerous terracotta masks and figurines drawn from major collections in Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Themes of the Exhibition

Elaborate costumes, complex choreography, scenic architecture, and the mask—which continues to be an icon for tragedy and comedy—are vividly depicted in the visual arts of ancient Greece.

An introductory section introduces visitors to the architectural and physical environment of ancient Greek theater. The importance of drama to the civic and religious life in the ancient Greek world is reinforced by a large mural map, locating about one hundred ancient theaters in the Mediterranean. The map is complemented by marble sculptures of actors and poets as well as a model of the Theater of Dionysos in Athens, the home of the festival of the Great Dionysia, where the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes were originally performed.

The exhibition is organized in three general themes. The first theme is devoted to the historical context of ancient Greek performance. Springing from the worship of Dionysos, theatrical performance developed out of the god’s religious rites and festivals. Objects on view depict actors, costumes, masks, choruses and chorusmen, with Dionysos the god of theater as motivator and benefactor.

The second theme focuses on tragedy and the satyr plays and will present comparative installations of vase-paintings inspired by ancient performances of Athens’ renowned tragedies: Aeschylus’ Oresteia; Euripides’ Medea, Herakles, Children of Herakles, Andromache and Iphigenia in Aulis; and Sophocles’ Oedipus. Objects representing satyr play will be anchored by the exceptional loan of the great Pronomos Vase from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples.

The third theme of the exhibition features comedy. Depictions of comic parodies and farces, where gods and centaurs share the stage with plotting slaves and thieves, and genre vase-painting represents costumed and masked actors in scenes on ancient stages, include some of the most vivid painting from the ancient world.

“We hope that our visitors will come away with a rich understanding not only of the context of ancient Greek theatrical performance but of the many ways artists interpreted the choruses and plays they witnessed. These vase-paintings, reliefs and figurines are often the only evidence we have for many aspects of ancient drama.

Significantly, the heightened visual style and attention to details such as costumes and choreography result in portrayals of ancient actors, poets, and musicians that give us an immediate sense of their performance on stage,” says Mary Louise Hart, associate curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, who curated the exhibition.

Performance

During the run of The Art of Ancient Greek Theater, the Getty Museum will present Sophocles’ Elektra directed by Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, with a new translation commissioned from Timberlake Wertenbaker. Elektra will be performed in the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, September 9 through October 2, 2010. In addition, the Villa Theater Lab will present Understanding a Satyr Play: The Trackers on November 19 and 20, 2010.

Publication and Related Events

The exhibition will be accompanied by a companion volume co-authored by Mary Louise Hart; Michael Walton, Professor Emeritus of Drama at the University of Hull, United Kingdom; François Lissarrague, Professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales Centre Louis Gernet, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris; Martine Denoyelle, École des hautes études en sciences sociales Centre Louis Gernet, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art; and H. Alan Shapiro, W.H. Collins Vickers Professor of Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University.