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  • Museum Archetypes and Collecting in the Ancient World ed. by Maia Wellington Gahtan and Donatella Pegazzano
  • Carol C. Mattusch
Maia Wellington Gahtan and Donatella Pegazzano (eds.). Museum Archetypes and Collecting in the Ancient World. Monumenta Graeca et Romana, 21. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015. Pp. xiv, 222. $175.00. ISBN 978–90–04–28050–2.

A relatively long introduction (1–18) precedes fifteen mostly brief but enlightening essays on collecting, ranging from the ancient Near East to Christian Constantinople.

Massimiliano Franci notes Pepi II’s (2278–2184 B.C.) request for a pygmy, Hatshepsut’s (1479–1457) exotic garden at Deir al Bahari, orientalizing objects from the Mediterranean world, and the Library of Ashurbanipal (668–629). [End Page 557] Josephine Shaya focuses on the epiphanies and votives in Athena’s temple listed in the Lindian Chronicle of 99 b.c.; Lindos became a magnet for tourists, and soon Romans were collecting antiques from Greek temples. Margaret Miles links the rise of collecting with the fifth- and fourth-century influx of wealth: metals that the Phocians took from Delphi, gold and silver mined in Thrace, silver mined at Laurion, gold and silver from Persia, and the bronze siege machinery of Demetrios Poliorketes used for the Colossus of Rhodes. Displays of wealth included Ptolemy II’s procession and the Museum and Library at Alexandria, Pergamon’s collection of antique statues, Hieron II’s gigantic altar in Syracuse, and Roman art collections and displays. Ann Kuttner continues the subject of Attalid collecting at Pergamon, concluding that “aspects of Pergamon’s visual environment, like the Great Altar, increasingly took on a role in Roman eyes as themselves exemplary of a golden age of art” (53).

Évelyne Prioux’s long essay covers first-century b.c. cameos and epigrams that may have been influenced by Poseidippos. Paolo Liverani masterfully uses administrative records from the third century b.c. to the fourth century a.d., including inventory numbers inscribed on statues, to interpret changing meanings and contexts of art brought to Rome from Eastern conquests. Alexandra Bounia argues that Roman collections defined their owners in historical and contemporary terms, demonstrated power and wealth, and established cultural standing. Alessandra Lazzeretti discusses Verres’ and Cicero’s collections: because she depends largely on Cicero’s writings, she concludes predictably that Verres surrounded himself with magnificence, while Cicero preferred “a cultured evocation of the Greek world” (101). Ida Gilda Mastrorosa inspects rich Roman triclinia: citron (coniferae cupressaceae) tables; silver and gold tableware; murrhine vases; bronze dining couches and tables; she omits lamps.

Francesca Ghedini and Giulia Salvo review the display of Roman panel paintings, marble panels, emblemata, and reproductions of famous Greek originals, using evidence from literary testimonia and frescoed illustrations of these works. Nathaniel Jones continues: post-166 b.c. annual Delian temple records and frescoes from the Villa della Farnesina (28–19 b.c.) illustrating panel paintings both record panel paintings with and without shutters, panels set against the wall, embedded panels, panels mounted on bases, panels set into ceiling coffers, and frieze panels. The Delian inventory usually lists what a votive was, what it was made of, and often the name of the dedicator, not subject or artist; whereas the Farnesina illustrations constitute a virtual collection of Greek art. “The original Greek context of masterpieces was easily remembered by most of the observers” (131). Richard Neudecker refers to “masterpieces” in the Villa dei Papiri, but they are only heads, removed from any “original” context. And in Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, Erechtheion caryatids (not korai as on 133) were installed as statues.

Lea Stirling surveys Late Antique statue-collecting: “purchased antiques and family heirlooms” (139); repair and resale of secondhand works; relocating public statues; and new commissions of portraits, mythological and ideal sculpture. More diverse collections contained fewer and smaller works. In Constantinople, Sarah Bassett considers Constantine’s imported classical sculptures and the Christian relics that were added during the late fourth and fifth centuries, forming a “Christian foundation myth … analogous to the sculptured installations that linked the fortunes of the city to those of Troia and Roma” (155). Jaś Elsner sees value in both artifacts and texts in their effect on today’s [End...


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