About: David Saunders

I’m assistant curator in the Department of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum and curator of the forthcoming exhibition Aphrodite and the Gods of Love. Previously, I curated The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani and Apollo from Pompeii: Investigating an Ancient Bronze. Exhibitions aside, my main research interests lie with ancient Greek vase-painting and the history of restorations.

Posts by David

Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Getty Villa

Hopes for a Happy Hereafter

Funerary Vessel with Phrixos on the Ram
Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung. Photo: Johannes Laurentius

How did ancient Italians think about death and the afterlife? More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Art

Plato’s Academy Awards (or, What the Ancient Greeks Have to Do with the Oscars)

Attic Panathenaic Amphora, 490 -480 B.C., Greek. 25 9/16 inches by 15 7/8 inches. J. Paul Getty Museum.
Attic Panathenaic Amphora, 490 -480 B.C., Greek. 25 9/16 inches by 15 7/8 inches. J. Paul Getty Museum.

What do the ancient Greeks have to do with the Oscars? More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Villa

Three Ways to Avoid the Freeways: Transport Advice from Apulian Vases

Funerary Vessel with Phrixos on the Ram, 340–310 B.C., Attributed to the Phrixos Group. Created in Ceglie del Campo, Italy, Apulia. Terracotta, 18 1/2 in. diam. Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung. Photo: Johannes Laurentius
Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Antikensammlung. Photo: Johannes Laurentius

Sick of driving? Hitch a ride on these mythical creatures. More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Villa

If Statues Could Talk…

Statue of Tiberius in the Men's gallery at the Getty Villa / Roman
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Laboratorio di Conservazione e Restauro

There’s a new emperor in town—an 8-foot-tall bronze Tiberius, to be exact. More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Art, Manuscripts and Books, Voices

The Search for Cyrus

Cyrus the Great, Founder of the Persian Empire, killed by Thamaris, Queen of the Massagetai; Boucicaut Master Illuminator, French, active about 1390 - 1430; Paris, France, Europe; about 1413 - 1415; Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment; Leaf: 42 x 29.6 cm (16 9/16 x 11 5/8 in.); 96.MR.17.58
Cyrus the Great, Founder of the Persian Empire, killed by Thamaris, Queen of the Massagetai; Boucicaut Master Illuminator, French, active about 1390 - 1430; Paris, France, Europe; about 1413 - 1415; Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment; Leaf: 42 x 29.6 cm (16 9/16 x 11 5/8 in.); 96.MR.17.58

A look at the representations of king Cyrus of ancient Persia in the Getty’s manuscripts collection. More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Voices

Understanding the Cyrus Cylinder | Getty Voices

The Cyrus Cylinder as installed at the Getty Villa / Achaemenid
The Cyrus Cylinder, Achaemenid, after 539 B.C. Terracotta, 22.9 x 10 cm. The British Museum

Curator David Saunders attempts to fit the need-to-knows about the Cyrus Cylinder into a nutshell. More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Exhibitions and Installations, J. Paul Getty Museum

Has History Got Roman Emperor Tiberius All Wrong?

Tiberius at the Getty Villa

Outrageous criminal or misunderstood victim? A new exhibition finds the man behind the scandal. More»

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A Winged Chariot, Wilshire Boulevard, and a Shipwreck: The Travels of Triptolemos

Display case at the Getty Villa featuring Red-Figure Neck-Amphora with Triptolemos Attended by Demeter and Persephone
Display case at the Getty Villa featuring, at center, Red-Figure Neck-Amphora with Triptolemos Attended by Demeter and Persephone, about 440–430 B.C., attributed to the Hector Painter. Greek, made in Attica. Terracotta, 19 1/4 in. high. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, William Randolph Hearst Collection (50.8.23)

Retracing the travels of a beautiful Greek vase, from Naples to England to Los Angeles by way of a near miss with the sea floor More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities

Is That Available as an e-Book? Scrolling through an Ancient Text

Attic Red-Figure Cup Fragment
Attic Red-Figure Cup Fragment (detail); Akestorides Painter, Greek (Attic), active about 470 - 450 B.C.; Athens, Greece, Europe; about 470 - 450 B.C.; Terracotta; Object (greatest extent): 6.8 cm (2 11/16 in.); 86.AE.324

An ancient depiction of a classroom and the mysterious marked letters on a scroll; but what do these letters mean? More»

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Posted in Ancient World, Antiquities, Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Sculpture and Decorative Arts

“Not Like a Coward”: Remembering a Warrior’s Death

Gravestone of Pollis / Greek
Gravestone of Pollis, Greek, made in Megara, about 480 B.C. Marble, 60 1/4 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 90.AA.129

The intimate association between being remembered and risking one’s life on the battlefield lies at the heart of Homer’s Iliad. The preeminent warrior Achilles famously chose to die young in battle and be forever honored, and this heroic code is well… More»

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.

      08/03/15

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