Antiquities, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

Stilt-Walking Actors Extend Their Stay at the Getty Villa

Storage Jar with a Chorus of Stilt Walkers, black-figured amphora attributed to the Swing Painter, Greek (Attic), active about 550-525 B.C. Terracotta, 16 1/8 x 11 7/16 in.  (41 x 29 cm). James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury

Storage Jar with a Chorus of Stilt Walkers, black-figured amphora attributed to the Swing Painter, Greek (Attic), active about 550-525 B.C. Terracotta, 16 1/8 x 11 7/16 in. (41 x 29 cm). James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury

The Art of Ancient Greek Theater closed on January 3, but one loan object from the exhibition won’t be making its way back home for a while.

An Attic black-figured amphora, or storage vessel, from the James Logie Memorial Collection at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, will remain at the Villa. The earthquake of September 4, 2010, caused severe damage to the institution, and the Logie Collection has been taken off display until items damaged during the earthquake can be conserved and a new gallery location identified.

Tragically, a second earthquake has now struck Christchurch, this time causing loss of life and a national emergency. For now, the university’s entire campus is closed.

It’s an ironic twist of fate that the vase was preserved because it was on loan to a museum in California, another earthquake-prone part of the world.

The vase features a unique scene of a comic chorus from an early form of Greek theatrical performance: five men on stilts wearing long, pointed caps, false-looking beards, and corselets made of animal skin, feathers, metal, or scales. Their muscular legs balance precariously on the stilts’ small footholds, indicated by single strokes of pigment.

While the University of Canterbury makes repairs to the rest of its collection and devises plans for its reinstallation, the vase will be on view in Gallery 114, which tells the story of Dionysos and the theater—both tragedy and comedy.

The Logie Collection is one of the finest collections of Greek and Roman antiquities on public display in the southern hemisphere. Learn more about the collection and see some recent acquisitions here, and get news on how the university is faring here.

Storage Jar with a Chorus of Stilt Walkers

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      gettypubs:

      COBALT

      The histories of many colors are amazing, but cobalt may well have the most brilliant of them all. From the Ming Dynasty to Renaissance Italy, cobalt was a popular glaze for porcelain and other ceramics. Cobalt ink is invisible unless exposed to flame, which turns it a vivid green. In the 17th century, this quality made Europeans believe it was witchcraft, but decades later it was used as a neat trick on fire screens. It wasn’t until 1802 that painters added cobalt to their palette. 

      It is this little tidbit from cobalt’s history that saved master forger Han van Meergeren’s skin after WWII, when he was tried for collaborating with the Nazis. Want to find out how some art history sleuthing and smart science got him a not guilty verdict? Hint: Don’t try to forge a Vermeer with cobalt! 

      Read all about it in The Brilliant History of Color in Art!

      Images, clockwise:

      Glazed earthenware dish with a marchant ship, Italy, about 1510. 

      Glazed earthenware tile floor, Spain, about 1425-50.

      Porcelain lidded vase, China, about 1662-1772.

      All objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum. 

      12/18/14

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