By Thomas P. Campbell, Director
Distributed by Yale University Press 2012
A couple of weeks ago, the “New York Times” wrote an article about a new edition of a Guide to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
As mentioned in an earlier post, a future trip to New York would more closely review some of what was photographed at the museum by this peripatetic voyeur. This new guide is a beginning of that closer look.
“THE GUIDE” is under $24, with excellent pictures of many of the museum art works and brief descriptions of their origin, size, provenance, and content. “THE GUIDE” offers information missed when personal photographs are taken at the Museum. It also provides a source for web search information that contextualizes art on display.
This marble Sarcophagus is titled “Triumph of Dionysus and the Seasons”. In Greek mythology, Dionysus is a god of chaos and, like seasons of a year with snow storms, floods, droughts, and unpredictability, Dionysus represents arbitrariness, giving and taking life by chance. In Roman mythology, Dionysus becomes Bacchus, the communicator between the living and the dead. The Sarcophagus is carved in the Late Imperial Roman period, between 260 and 270 A.D. which places it in the crises years of the Roman Empire. It is generally classified as funerary art. It is decorated with forty human and animal figures that depict the four seasons; i.e. from left to right—Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.
Joseph Pulitzer gave it to the museum in 1955. Pulitzer, a newspaper publisher that died in 1911, is best known for posthumously creating the Pulitzer Prize. Pulitzer owned two newspapers (The Saint Louis Dispatch & The New York Herald) and became an elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 9th district.
The Farnese Table below is noted to have been made in 1569, donated by the Harris Brisbane Dick Fund in 1957. It is believed to have been designed by an Italian architect, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, for the Farnese Palace in Rome. The fleurs-de-lis (lilies) are emblems of the Farnese family.
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese lived from 1520 to 1589. He was the grandson of Pope Paul III and became a great collector and patron of the arts. Presumably, his family either commissioned or purchased the table. Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, employed by the Farnese family, had once tutored with Michelangelo. The table is inlaid with various marbles and semiprecious stones surrounding Egyptian (some say Oriental) alabaster in the center.
Harris Brisbane Dick, deceased 1917, was the owner of a book publishing business, now defunct, called Dick & Fitzgerald. At his death, Dick directed that $1,328,257 of his estate be set up to be used to buy ‘desirable objects of art’ for the MMofA.
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide” will be periodically reviewed as a source document to explore the web-based history of what pictures are taken of exhibits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; i.e. just for the love of art and its spectacular location in America’s brightness-lights City. [contact-form-7 id=”1710″ title=”Contact form 1″]