Figures from the Fire: J. Pierpont Morgan’s Ancient Bronzes from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Museum of Art Museum of Art

Exhibition: Figures from the Fire: J. Pierpont Morgan’s Ancient Bronzes from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

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Walker Gallery
This exhibition features twenty small-scale ancient bronze sculptures from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, all purchased by the American financier J. Pierpont Morgan between 1904 and 1916 and given to the museum by his son in 1917.

Selected Works

An ancient bronze sculpture of a leaping deer with head turned

Figure of a young deer, 2nd century CE bronze, 2 ½ x 7 1/8 x 4 5/8 in. (6.4 x 18 x 11.8 cm). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.843

Two ancient bronze sculptures of the head of mules

Two mule protomes from the fulcrum of a dining couch, 1st century BCE–1st century CE, bronze with silver and possibly copper, A: 2 5/8 x 6 5/8 x 5 ½ in. (6.7 x 17 x 14 cm), B: 2 ½ x 5 ¾ x 4 3/8 in. (6.4 x 14.5 x 11 cm). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.888, 1917.889

An ancient bronze mirror with a  siren, a mythological female figure decorating the handle

Mirror with handle in the form of a siren, c. 450–400 BCE, bronze, 13 ½ x 7 ¼ x ¾ in. (34.3 x 8.4 x 2 cm). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.824

An ancient bronze handle in the form of a "siren." a mythological figure

Hydria handle with a figure of a siren, 5th century BCE, bronze, 10 x 4 ¾ x 4 in. (25.4 x 12 x 10 cm). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.825

An ancient sculpture of a draped male warrior

Figure of a draped warrior, ca. 510–500 BCE, bronze, 5 ¾ x 2 x 1 ¾ in. (14.5 x 5 x 4.5 cm) (without base). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.815

An ancient sculpture of a nude male warrior

Figure of a nude male warrior, ca. 430–420 BCE, bronze, 11 x 4 ¾ x 2 7/8 in. (28 x 12 x 7.3 cm) (without base). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.820

An ancient sculpture of a laughing male actor

Thymiaterion with figure of a comic actor, 1st century CE, bronze, 5 ¾ x 3 5/8 x 3 3/8 in. (14.6 x 9.2 x 8.5 cm). Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917.886

About

This exhibition features twenty small-scale ancient bronze sculptures from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, all purchased by the American financier J. Pierpont Morgan between 1904 and 1916 and given to the museum by his son in 1917. Morgan was a passionate collector and spent many years acquiring exquisite works of art. His Greek and Roman bronzes are especially notable and include a range of figure and vessel types: males and females, gods and mortals, humans and animals and hybrid mythological creatures, free-standing statuettes, and furniture embellishments. Morgan chose each work of art for its exquisite craftsmanship, its quality of composition and execution, and its preservation. These objects represent the best of ancient Mediterranean bronze sculpture, with carefully rendered details, and adorned with inlays of silver and other luxury materials. A selection of ancient works from the Bowdoin College Museum of Art’s collection supplement the Wadsworth’s bronzes. This exhibition was curated by Lisa Brody, associate curator of ancient art at the Yale University Art Gallery, and James Higginbotham, chair of Bowdoin College's Department of Classics and curator for the ancient collection at the BCMA.