The exhibition of Greek Bronze Vessels in Houston

Mask of Dionysus, Greco-Roman, first century BC

Bronze works created throughout a wide area of the ancient world, from the Greek islands to Rome, ranging in time from the life of the epic poet Homer about 700 BC and the end of the first century BC are being shown in “Greek Bronze Vessels from the Collection of Shelby White and Leon Levy” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston throughout July, 10.

The exhibition consisting of 14 objects displays a variety of the earliest vessels used for practical purposes, decorations that were once attached to such vessels and other items, which are notable for their exquisite workmanship and excellent condition.

Highlights of the exhibition are a calyx krater with applied silver decoration and stand and hydria with appliqué of Orpheus and satyr, both Fourth Century BC. Hydria and krater are large containers for water and wine, respectively. While appliqués for vessels and other objects were made of solid cast bronze, the bodies of containers were made from thinly hammered bronze. The kraters’ body is decorated with a delicate trail of silver vines and tendrils. Pairs of female faces with wavy hair are attached on each side below the handles. The hydria features a plaque of the musician Orpheus playing a lyre as an enchanted young satyr looks on. The scene is attached just below the large handle used to tilt the vessel for pouring. Both vessels are striking examples of the most refined metalwork created in the Greek world at that time.

Among the outstanding examples of appliqués in the exhibition are “Figure of an Athlete” (Sixth Century BC) and Mask of Dionysus (First Century BC-First Century AD). The figure of the young athlete was probably attached to a vessel. Such vessels were presented as first prizes to the winners of athletic competitions. The mask of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, is cast in solid bronze and depicts a face with large eyes, a straight nose and a wavy beard. These kinds of masks often were made in pairs and attached as decorative elements on buckets used to carry wine.

Published in: on May 12, 2005 at 2:55 am  Leave a Comment  

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