“I would rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent than in the extent of my powers and dominion.”
—Alexander the Great (356 B.C.–323 B.C.) he and his conquering army, establishing an empire from Italy to India, disseminated the excellent Hellenistic aesthetic far and wide
And excellence did Alexander the Great know! The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Met, has had a three-month exhibit titled “Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World.” It began in April, and is scheduled to end on July 17th. It is a wonder! It cannot be praised highly enough. The 265 dazzling works of art—mostly sculpture—cover a period of five hundred years, 300 B.C. to A.D. 200; they are in the Hellenistic aesthetic tradition from across the empire that Alexander the Great established. The above photo of the excavated amphitheater at Pergamon greets exhibit goers. Here are some of the exhibit’s highlights that caught our eye.
The dying Gaul, carved in marble, is here from the collection of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples. It is an early 2nd century A.D. Roman Imperial copy of an early 2nd century B.C. bronze Greek original. It was found at Rome in 1514; and it later became part of the collection of Italy’s powerful Farnese family.
The dying giant, carved in marble, is here from the collection of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples. It is an early 2nd century A.D. Roman Imperial copy of an early 2nd century B.C. bronze Greek original. It was found at Rome in 1514; and it later became part of the collection of Italy’s powerful Farnese family.
The kneeling Persian, carved in marble, is part of the collection in the Galleria dei Candelabri, Musei Vaticani. It is an early 2nd century A.D. Roman Imperial copy of an early 2nd century B.C. bronze Greek original. First known to be part of the Giustiniani collection in 1638; Pope Clement XIV bought it from Bartolomeo Cavaceppi in 1771.
This adorable terracotta figure of Eros dates from the 1st century B.C. It is part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Eros wears the lion skin of Hercules. It is from Greek Asia Minor.
A Greek bronze figure of Eros, seen sleeping on a rock of marble, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is thought to have come from the Isle of Rhodes in 3rd or 2nd century B.C.
With his dog crouching adoringly to greet him, the Greek hero Makedon arrives home. Part of the Antikenmuseum Basel this marble high relief—a section of his tomb—dates from 150 B.C.
This perfectly fabulous fragmentary marble head of a youth—part of a bust—was the image chosen by The Met to use for its promotional material (posters and ads) related to this exhibition. It is believed to be from the 2nd century B.C., and was discovered at Pergamon on the upper terrace of a gymnasium in 1879. It is part of the collection of the Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen in Berlin. It may have represented a young god or Alexander the Great.
This marble slab shows Hercules finding the infant Telephos suckled by a lioness. It was discovered at Pergamon between 1878 and 1886. It is in the collection of the Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen in Berlin. Originally part of a frieze telling the story of the life of Telephos, it was discovered at Pergamon, 1878 to 1886.
Discovered at Pergamon this marble horse dates from 160 B.C. In the collection of the Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen at Berlin, it was part of the Great Altar. This horse was the left inner one of a quadriga, a two-wheeled chariot drawn by four horses.
Known as the Tivoli General, this Roman portrait figure dates from the late Roman Republican period, 80 to 60 B.C. It was found at the Temple of Hercules Victor in Tivoli, Emperor Hadrian’s villa outside Rome. It is part of the collection at the Museo Nazionale, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome. We recognized that face (how could anyone forget it?) from across the room, having seen it in Rome.
These tragic (center) and comic (left and right) masks are carved in marble. Dating from the 2nd century B.C. they were found in Athens; and are part of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens
Retrieved in 1901 from the 1st century A.D. Antikythera shipwreck, and in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, this marble youth is thought to be a wrestler assuming his starting position. It is Greek, dating from the 1st century B.C.
This colossal head of Zeus was found in Aigeira, Peloponnesos, Greece. It dates from 150 to 100 B.C., and is part of the collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Include a tour of The Met on your next Specialty Tour that will designed just for you. The west side of The Met can be seen on our Central Park Walking Tour. Take the Tour; Know More!
ALL PHOTOS AND TEXT, EXCEPT NOTED QUOTES, © THE AUTHOR 2016