Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A splendid collection of Greek bronze masterpieces

Bronze sculptures from Hellenistic times are pretty rare, at least when it comes to larger pieces and life-size statues. So, here is a unique opportunity to admire a whole bunch of them, collected among the best examples from museums around the world: the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Louvre in Paris, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Museum of the Vatican and the Archaeological Museum in Naples and several others.

The first display was organized this spring at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy, under the label “Power and Pathos, Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World” and I can assure you that the collection was worth the trip all by itself! Considering that there are less than 200 large bronzes from Greek and Roman antiquity left worldwide, you’ll have to admit that this is a unique opportunity to see so many gods, athletes, heroes and other figures together – the crème de la crème, no doubt. Most antique bronzes have been melted down over the centuries as the precious metal was reused for other purposes, mainly in warfare.

The priceless artifacts date from Hellenistic times, roughly from right after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC to the ascent of Rome in the first century AD. Without Alexander Hellenism would not exist and it is no surprise to find the great man in person at the center of the very first room in Firenze. It is the magnificent Alexander riding his beloved Bucephalus from the Archaeological Museum in Naples and dated to the first century BC. Such detailed work, I can’t get enough of it.


Nearby is a slightly larger than life-size bust of Seleucos, still with inlaid eyes – a magnificent piece! In fact each and every statue is worth to be mentioned. There is for instance a remarkably well preserved Head of an Athlete from the second century BC-first century AD; an arresting portrait of a poet, the so-called Arundel head, from the second/first century BC; the wonderful Head of a Man from Delos, also called the Worried Man also from the 2nd/1st century BC; the splendid Statue of a Young Man from the 4th-3rd century BC; the Head of the Thracian king Seuthes III with penetrating eyes from the third century BC; a lovely life-size Head of a Horse ready to turn its ears towards the visitor to pick up his scent dating from the second half of the fourth century BC; the statue of an Athlete (Apoxyomenus) from the first century AD; a rather archaic looking Apollo (kouros) with inlaid eyed form the first century BC/first century AD; and another pure Hellenistic Apollo Head this time from the same period; the Bust of an Ephebe, the so-called Beneventum Head, from ca. 50 BC;  a young man from Cyprus made of bronze with a very particular and unusual patina; a slender life-size Athena or Minerva di Arezzo from between 300-270 BC; a very muscled statuette of the Weary Hercules from the 3rd century BC/1st century AD; and many, many more. Absolutely amazing the Terme Boxer from the third century BC from Rome; he is placed on the floor like an occasional visitor, totally at rest after the intense fight he just put up showing his scars all over his body, with still oozing cuts and wounds. He is so life-like that you expect him to look up at you at any moment! A very tempting set of pictures has just been published on this site of the Getty Museum in California.

Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, so I have to work from memory and with whatever photographs available on the internet, but, of course, there is nothing like meeting these masterpieces “live”. With a little luck, you can still visit this unique exhibition at the Paul Getty Museum at Malibu, California, from July 28 till November 1, 2015, and at the National Gallery of Art at Washington D.C., from December 13, 2015 till March 20, 2016.

[Pictures are scans from the leaflet available in Florence, Italy]

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