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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      From you have I been absent in the spring,
      When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
      Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
      That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,
      Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
      Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
      Could make me any summer’s story tell,
      Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
      Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
      Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
      They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
      Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
      Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
      As with your shadow I with these did play.

      —William Shakespeare, born April 23, 1564

      Vase of Flowers (detail), 1722, Jan van Huysum. The J. Paul Getty Museum

      04/23/14

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