HOUSTON, TX.- The exhibition From Myth to Life: Images of Women from the Classical Word focuses on varied depictions of women of antiquity. The 44 ancient Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Phoenician objects were especially chosen from the Celia and Walter Gilbert Collection for their representation of women or for their use by women in the classical world. The vases, statuettes, jewelry, and household objects, which range in style, origin, and age, are on view until July 31 in the Alice Pratt Gallery and Garden of the Caroline Weiss Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet Street.
Chronicling the development and transition of women in antiquity, the objects in the exhibition span 1,500 years, from Bronze Age Greece to Imperial Rome. They are the products of Etruscan and Phoenician, as well as Greek and Roman, manufacture. Of the various cultures represented, however, it is Greece that predominates, with vases, terracotta figurines, and metalwork from Greek sites of South Italy and Sicily as well as from the powerful mainland cities of Corinth and Athens.
The representations of the female form range from romantic, to powerful, to iconic; from terracotta figurines of elegant simplicity to intricately carved gold ornaments, from the timeless silhouette of a woman´s head on an archaic perfume bottle to a complex narrative scene showing one woman´s place at the center of her family, as tragedy strikes. Idolized bronze statuettes depict the female form and numerous goddesses, including a winged Victory, a crowned Nemesis, and Isis-Fortuna. A terracotta statuette depicts a little girl dressed and dancing like a bear presumably she is a follower of Artemis, goddess of wild beasts and the hunt. The collectors, Celia and Walter Gilbert describe their experiences with art in this way, "Holding a paper-thin vase from antiquity gave us the intoxicating feeling of reaching backwards through time to encounter those complex and ambitious men and women of the ancient world."
"We are pleased to present this elegant collection of objects which allow the women so vividly present in the poetry and art of the ancient world to come to the forefront," said Frances Marzio, curator of The Glassell Collections. Such objects as a kylix, a drinking cup, an oinochoe, a pitcher, and a pyxis, a small box for cosmetics or jewelry, offer remarkable profiles of women as goddesses, followers of Dionysus, warriors and wives. Other objects reference women in their utility: a cosmetics palette, a gold earring symbolizing the goddess Nike, an aryballos, a small vessel for perfumed oil that was often suspended from a belt and hung from the wrist as the woman moved about, and an intricately designed pin, which would have been used to fasten a woman´s cloak or dress. Together, the objects in the exhibition present an artistic narrative that illustrates women of the ancient world in a rich and vibrant context.