Antiquities Specialist Laetitia Delaloye reviews Moi, Auguste Empereur De Rome at the Grand Palais, Paris
‘The Grand Palais is one of the best places to see an exhibition in Paris and Moi, Auguste Empereur de Rome is an exceptional show. The emperor Augustus was the founder of the Roman Empire and so there is always an element of megalomania about Roman art of the 1st century BC and AD. Marble sculpture of this period in particular is amazingly grand while the influence of the Greeks is of course very strong. Many of the portraits of Augustus were idealised and copied over and over again so they could be sent out across the empire to spread the message of his indomitable leadership. He is always presented as very strong and masculine, which is what we expect of a Roman Emperor.
The sheer quantity of exhibits was very impressive. Foremost of these was the Ara Pacis, the carved marble altar made to honour Augustan Peace, which rarely leaves the museum named after it in Rome, as well as many important pieces from private collections. One of the first rooms contained marble busts of Augustus’s family, placed in a circle so they were all looking at each other, exemplifying the exceptional curation of this show. Elsewhere there were wonderfully luxurious everyday objects in glass and silver which really evoked the social lives of the Romans. The highlight for me was the Aphrodite Charis, from the Museo Nazionale in Rome–the goddess of love is represented beautifully with diaphanous drapery highlighting her exquisite form.
This is a once in a lifetime chance to see all these remarkable pieces together. They are displayed beautifully and offer valuable insights into this great man’s life.’
From Tutankhamun at the Ashmolean in Oxford to Byzantine manuscripts in LA, the summer months promise a wealth of exhibitions of ancient and eastern art.
Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek CollectionsNow until 25 August 2014Getty Center, Los Angeles
Byzantine art is immediately recognisable for the opulent use of gold and distinctive style of depicting Christian figures. Founded in AD 330 when Constantine established his new capital Constantinople , the Byzantine empire only fell in AD 1453 when the city was sacked by the Ottomans. The exhibition focuses on over a thousand years of religious art from icons and textiles, to architectural sculptures, frescoes, and mosaics.
ISLAM. Armi e Armature dalla Collezione di Frederick StibbertNow until 9 NovemberMuseo Stibbert, Florence
Though the city is more famous for its vast holdings of Renaissance Italian art, Florence’s Stibbert Museum has one of the most precious and complete collections of Islamic arms and armour in Europe. This exhibition showcases the exceptional artistic sensibility among these eastern craftsmen through artefacts of great beauty and rarity from the 15th to the early 18th century.
Moi, Auguste, empereur de RomeNow until July 2014Grand Palais, Paris
2,000 years after the death of Augustus the Grand Palais presents a remarkable selection of statues, sculptures, frescoes, jewellery and furniture bearing the great emperor’s image. These artefacts represent the artistic influence Augustus had on his empire as well as reflecting the changing social environment of the Romans in this period.
Ancient Lives: New Discoveries22 May – 30 November 2014British Museum, London
Using the latest archaeological technology, the British Museum reveals the lifestyle, culture and customs of the people whose mummies have become a central feature of their permanent displays.
Predators and Prey: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel5 June – 2 November 2014Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire
In 1996 a splendid series of Roman mosaic floors, depicting wild animals such as lions, elephants and giraffes as well as beautiful marine scenes, was accidentally discovered during local road works in Lod, Israel (known as Lydda). They were reburied after preliminary conservation until final excavation in 2009 by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Dated to around 300 A.D., the largest and most elaborate of these will be displayed at Waddesdon Manor.
Tiki pop, l'Amérique rêve son paradis polynésien 24 June – 28 SeptemberMusée du quai Branly, Paris
From Tiki bars to loud shirts, Polynesian culture has been imagined and reimagined in American culture since the French explorer Bougainville discovered the islands on his round-the-world expedition in the 18th century. At the Musée du quai Branly a selection of more than 400 objects from private American collections represents the beginnings of this style, inspired by the ‘primitive’ sculptures on the islands, through to its increasing popularity in the 1960s.
African MastersGreat Artists from The Ivory Coast28 June – 5 October 2014Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn
African Masters presents a large selection of masks and figures from the Ivory Coast and neighbouring countries that explore the role of the artist in African society. Though many are anonymous the exhibition aims to place these masters in a broader art historical context.
Discovering Tutankhamun24 July – 2 November 2014The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
‘At last have made wonderful discovery in Valley a magnificent tomb with seals intact…’Howard Carter’s telegram to Lord Carnarvon on 5 November 1922
Discovering Tutankhamun will tell the story of one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, from the initial hunt for the tomb to the excitement of the discovery, through Howard Carter’s original records, drawings and photographs.
Sara Plumbly on a record-breaking Iznik bowl >Romain Pingannaud on Islamic Art >An Interview with Christian Levett >