J. Paul Getty purchased his first work of ancient art in 1939 – a small terracotta sculpture. Almost thirty years later, inspired by his growing collection of antiquities of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art, he announced he would build a museum worthy of such treasures: a recreation of the Villa dei Papiri, a luxurious Roman residence in Herculaneum, Italy that had been buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
The Villa dei Papiri (“Villa of the Papyruses”) was rediscovered in the 1750s. The excavation recovered bronze and marble sculptures, wall paintings, colorful stone pavements, and over a thousand papyrus scrolls – hence the name. The Getty villa is a near replica of it, in scale and appearance; even some of the materials used were taken from the Villa dei Papiri. (source)
In other words, the Getty Villa should be seen as a work of art in itself and feature high on your list of ”must-see” museums next time you plan a trip to Southern California.
In antiquity, as today, awnings served both a ceremonial and practical purpose. Roman hosts invited guests to dine on outdoor couches protected from the sun by colourful fabric. Tends and awnings throughout towns and cities marked festivals and holidays and provided shade for the audience in open-air arenas and theatres.
Pair of Altars with Aphrodite and Adonis
Greek, made in Taras, South Italy, 400-375 B.C.
Mixing Vessel with Adonis, Aphrodite and Persephone
Greek, made in Athens, 390-380 B.C.
Roman, A.D. 100-200; found in Rome
Roman, about A.D. 200
Storage Jar with Medusa
Greek, made in Athens, 530-520 B.C.
The Lansdowne Herakles
Roman, about A.D. 125
This sculpture was one of J. Paul Getty’s most prized possessions and inspired him to build this Museum in the style of an ancient Roman villa. The statue, representing the Greek hero Herakles with his lionskin and club, was discovered in 1790 near the villa of the Roman emperor Hadrian at Tivoli, Italy.
Poet as Orpheus with Two Sirens
Greek, made in Taras, South Italy, 350-300 B.C.
Pair of Peacocks
Roman, from Syria, possibly Emesa (present-day Homs), A.D. 400-600
Sadly – and alarmingly – the Getty Villa will remain closed all weekend – Saturday and Sunday, November 10 and 11, 2018 – due to the ongoing wildfires in order to help firefighting efforts by alleviating traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway. The Villa itself is not threatened by the fires.
Here’s hoping to see the end of this destruction, soon.