Last year, the Forum Antique de Bavay, located in northern France, hosted a small exhibition devoted to the book Mémoires d’Hadrien (Memoirs of Hadrian). The exhibition sheds light on the genesis of Mémoires d’Hadrien and presents archaeological objects and ancient texts. It provides insight into the meticulous work behind Marguerite Yourcenar’s historic novel, compiling postcards and photographs of works and places relating to her subject, studying all the ancient sources with a passionate and serious enthusiasm. On display are books, manuscripts, statuary, portrait busts, and coins, as well as different artefacts from the time of Hadrian and the Antonines. Fifty works are on loan from the Louvre, the British Museum, Hadrian’s Villa, the Museum Ingres in Montauban, the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon and the Musée Saint-Raymond in Toulouse. It is the first exhibition in France about Mémoires d’Hadrien.
On a recent business trip to Zurich, I had the opportunity to tour two of the city’s great repositories of Swiss history and culture: the Museum Rietberg and the Landesmuseum Zürich (English: Swiss National Museum). Both house sumptuous works of art and special rotating exhibitions.
The Six Dynasties period from the third to sixth centuries CE was one of the most dynamic periods in Chinese art history, akin to the European Renaissance in the impact it had on artistic creativity and the celebration of individual expression. Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties China, 3rd-6th Centuries, now on show at the China Institute in New York, New York, situates these innovations and achievements from both the Southern and Northern Dynasties across four major disciplines: Ceramics, sculpture, calligraphy, and painting. In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Ms. Willow Weilan Hai, Director of the China Institute Gallery, about the exhibition.
I was attending an event at the Royal College of Physicians of London in early March 2016, and I had a plenty of time to spare. One of my targets was, of course, the British Museum. Two years ago, Jan van der Crabben (founder and CEO of the Ancient History Encyclopedia) asked me to draft a blog article about the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, but I lacked detailed and high-quality images of all aspects of the obelisk. Nowadays, I’m equipped with a Nikon D750 full-frame camera and incredible lenses. So let’s spend some time looking at the obelisk and enjoy its wonderful artistic scenes. The obelisk lies at the heart of Room 6 of the Ground Floor. The overall surrounding lighting is unfortunately scarce, but who cares, my camera can overcome this very easily! Remember, no “flash” photography is allowed.
This month’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble statue of a dancing female figure, thought to be a portrait of Praxilla of Sikyon. Praxilla was a female poet writing in the mid-fifth century BC. She came from Sikyon, a city situated on a fertile coastal plain beside the Corinthian Gulf in the northeast Peloponnese (see images of the archaeological site here). She wrote, dithyrambs, hymns to the Greek gods as well as drinking songs (skolia). Her skolia were among the most celebrated of her time and were sung at banquets and festivals for over three hundred years.
This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble head of Hypnos, the Greek god of Sleep. Hypnos is represented as a young man with wings attached to his temples (now lost). The head must have been part of a full length statue showing Hypnos running forwards, holding in his hands poppies and a vessel from which he presumably poured a sleeping potion. One of the most complete representations of Hypnos is a bronze statuette from the collection of the Roman Museum in Augst (see an image here).
The Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the world. In addition to Renaissance masterpieces including works from Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, the Uffizi houses one of the world’s most important collections of ancient Roman and Greek statues. The Medicis’ interest in ancient art started with the founder of the family Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574) and grew over nearly four decades. The antiquities were stored and displayed in several rooms in Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti where they could be admired by the visitors to the court. The antiquities were later transferred to the Uffizi. Most of the ancient statues and busts are displayed on the u-shaped second floor of the museum. The wide corridors are filled with numerous portraits of the members of the different imperial dynasties including those of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty. Nerva (ruled 96 – 98 A.D.)