Apollo’s Girl

Art/Music/Film
apollo and lyre

ISAW right now! (through January 6)

isaw 4The perfect respite from holiday excess sits on a quiet side street in a gloriously restored mansion. Wrapping yourself in the glow of New York’s gilded age, you will
find cases of dazzling silver with an amazing backstory – sure to trigger envy and awe that connect millennia and cultures. It is isaw 1French treasure and Roman luxury. The treasure was (literally) uncovered in 1830 by a farmer plowing his field in northern France, but the metallic gleam that caught his eye had been buried much, much earlier
in a brick-lined pit by Romans on the site of their temple dedicated to Mercury Canetonenis.

The farmer, a practical man, thought to sell his find for the its weight in silver, but had the wit to show it to a local expert first. Such news travels fast, triggering a bidding war between
the Louvre and the Bibliothèque Nationale. The Bibliothèque won, the farmer was
compensated, so (after recent conservation by the Getty Museum) we can now enjoy
the privilege of seeing for ourselves what the Romans could create in precious metal. There are gems, jewelry and miniature dioramas of gods and mortals telling their stories of everyday life, eternal epics, and the life of the imagination in the ancient world. 

Many of the objects are offerings by the wealthy seeking favor and naming rights(sound familiar?)
isaw 3from Mercury, the messenger of the gods as well as the patron deity of commerce and the arts. The hand work of the master metalsmiths is breathtaking; their dedication and skill can still be marveled at. And, in an echo of their painstaking artistry, one of the two large statues of Mercury on view was found in fragments then, like an infinitely complex jigsaw puzzle, put back together piece by piece by the Getty conservators on their mission to recapture the past.

One of the great pleasures of ISAW (the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World)is that you can spend quality time with the displays, absorbing their mysteries and splendors only inches away. (Bring a magnifying glass for the ultimate experience.)

P.S.: From March 6 – June 2, 2019, Hymn to Apollo: The Ancient World and the Ballets Russes will be on the walls and in the vitrines. Not to be missed! ISAW: 15 East 84 Street. Information and hours: isaw.nyu.edu isaw 5

 

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