Monday, April 11, 2016

Mosaics at the Getty Villa till September 12

Happy Mosaic Monday!

Since March, and through September 12, the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades is showing off Roman mosaics from the 2nd through the 6th centuries A.D. The mosaics come from all over what was then the Roman Empire, from North Africa through Italy and into France (Gaul), and east to Turkey and Syria.

I'm astonished by how much information is online: maps, histories, citations, and descriptions of each find. For instance, here is a photo of one mosaic, uncovered in Syria in 1938.

Just to be compliant, here is the caption with the photo: Excavation photo showing Mosaic Floor with Animals from the Bath of Apolausis, Antioch, Syria, 1938. Antioch Expedition Archives, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, no. 4092.

This  was a Roman bath discovered near Antioch. It was a public building surrounded by villas, so we can imagine the clientele was wealthy and pampered. Think of the appointments of Bullocks Wilshire, and glance back at the picture I posted a couple of days ago -- of that store's sportswear department in the 1930s. Rich people like luxurious surroundings.

So they had mosaics on the floors, and frescoes on the walls, The frescoes did not fare so well.

That's just a tease of the information you can find on this single page published by the Getty Villa. The layout of the entire bath and all its rooms is there. Descriptions of what was found in the 1930s. Explanations of the heating system that ran under the floors. An overview of other sites in the area.

The Getty purchased this floor from another museum in 1970. Which is why I think I have a refrigerator magnet with the bunny on it somewhere, from a visit to the Getty Villa way back when.

If bunnies and peacocks are too tame for you, there is a graphic mosaics of a lion ripping into an onager (an ass) for dinner, or one of wrestlers facing off, one of hunters going after wild beasts, and more. There is even one featuring naked men climbing the rigging of ships and doing other nautical things. I don't know the story behind that particular mosaic.

To commence your own adventure through the catalogue of mosaics, start here. Or anywhere. Or go to the Getty Villa yourself and see these amazing mosaics.

Start planning your trip here. There are other things to see besides the mosaics of course, but it is Mosaic Monday.

Special lectures accompany the exhibit. There are once-a-month tours, and the next one is April 28th.. If you're at the Getty on Thursdays or Fridays, you can drop in  to the Getty Reading Room from 11 a.m. till noon and see how mosaics were constructed in Roman times. Touch the materials and the tools, that sort of thing.  Details on all of these programs are at the Getty website.

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