January 24, 2000
Volume 52, No. 18
Carlos Museum debuts Greek, Roman artifacts
By Eric Rangus
The first 11 pieces of ancient Greek and Roman art acquired through a $10 million pledge debuted at a ceremony at the Carlos Museum on Jan. 14.
"In this great country, I do not consider it an obligation to give, I consider it a privilege," benefactor Michael Carlos told a gathering of about 100, which included President Bill Chace and Dimitris Macrynikolas, the Greek consul in Atlanta.
And what a significant gift it is. The new group of works, which were acquired through a pledge by the longtime patron Carlos and his wife, Thalia, to the Museum, span a thousand years of Greek and Roman art and vary in material from ceramic to bronze to marble.
The oldest piece, a bronze statuette of a horse that would fit comfortably in the palm of a person's hand, dates back to the eighth century B.C., the earliest stage of Greek art. The most recent object is a statue of Leda, the mother of Helen of Troy, being seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan. The statue dates from the first or second century A.D., and is also the first classical nude female sculpture in the museum's collection.
"The museum's ancient Greek and Roman holdings are already recognized as being among the most significant in the Southeast," said museum Director Anthony Hirschel. "This new gift will further raise international recognition of the Carlos Museum. The importance of access to works of this caliber cannot be overestimated."
"The Carloses' emphasis on art of the highest quality has and will continue to allow us to build a first-rate collection that demonstrates the enduring beauty and depth of feeling present in ancient Greek art," said Bonna Wescoat, faculty curator of classical art.
A life-size statue of the god Hermes in marble, dating from the first century A.D., dominates the center of the Museum's Classical Court that features the new pieces. The third statue in the new collection is a bronze figure resembling Alexander the Great, which dates from the third century B.C.
Statuettes are not the only pieces presented, however. To the right of Hermes, against the wall, sits a magnificent marble sarcophagus that depicts images of the seasons, as well as several mythological scenes. The collection also includes two kraters--one of them four feet tall, the largest in any American collection--a vase that dates to approximately 450 B.C. and a relief scene from approximately 400 B.C.
One person who was definitely impressed with the occasion was Macrynikolas. "Tonight, we are all Greek in culture," he told the ceremony attendees.
"It is impossible to adequately express the gratitude of the museum and Emory University to Michael and Thalia Carlos," Hirschel said.
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