A Passion for Antiquities

Article excerpt

One of the world's finest private collections of ancient art is on display for the first time in an exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, Calif. "A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman" features more than 200 objects from Greece, Rome, and Etruria dating from 2600 B.C. to 400 A.D. Included are sculptures in marble and bronze; vessels in bronze, silver, terracotta, and glass; frescoes; and gold jewelry.

Whether lively representations of people engaged in everyday activities, powerful images of the gods, or objects that once served some practical purpose, many works in the exhibition colorfully evoke aspects of daily life in the ancient world and invite fascinating associations between past and present.

The earliest and one of the rarest works in the collection is an elegantly proportioned Cycladic head of an idol circa 2600-2500 B.C. that retains traces of its original painted detail. A large South Italian lekythos (a container for perfumed oil), painted about 350-340 B.C., depicts the Garden of the Hesperides with a graceful and lively composition featuring a central tree of golden apples around which a coiled serpent feeds tranquilly from a shallow dish held by one of five beautiful maidens. …