Briefly: The Ancient Collection

Joslyn Art Museum’s collection of antiquities includes objects from Egypt, Greece, and Rome, among them a portrait bust of the Egyptian princess Amenirdas I, a Roman bust of Augustus re-carved from an earlier portrait of Nero, and a respected group of Greek pottery, including an Attic Black-Figure Amphora attributed to The Omaha Painter, and an Italo-Corinthian Olpe attributed to The Joslyn Painter.

Below are highlights selected from Joslyn's ancient collection.

Ancient
Artist Unknown (Egyptian, Late Period, 8th century B.C),
Amenirdas I, the Divine Consort , ca. 700 B.C., XXV Dynasty,
granite, 25 ¼ in. high
Museum Purchase, 1953.80

In her role as “God’s Wife” of the Egyptian state god, Amun, Amenirdas I not only had supreme religious authority but also, like a sovereign, ruled Upper and Lower Egypt. Appropriately, she is here depicted with traditional pharaonic attributes: a ceremonial wig with a crown of hooded cobra heads and what seems to be a pharaoh’s flail (only its handle survives).

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The Omaha Painter (attributed (Greek, 6th century B.C.),
Attic Black-Figure Ovoid Neck-Amphora , ca. 570 B.C.,
clay, 15 inches high
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas C. Woods, Jr, 1963.480

This amphora, produced in Athens during the Archaic-Classical Period (600–400 B.C.), is the centerpiece of Joslyn’s collection of Greek pottery. The image depicts a Greek warrior slaying an Amazon, a mythical race of women who fought as men, distinguished here from the male warriors by the contrasting pale color of their skin. The opposite side illustrates a symposium, where men gathered to drink, debate, or celebrate a special occasion.

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The Affecter (attributed to) (Greek, 6th century B.C.),
Attic Black-Figure Hydria , ca. 530 B.C.,
terra cotta, 17 ½ in.; 44.45 cm high
Museum purchase, 1953.255

The term "hydria" comes from the Greek word hudor, or water, and suggests that this piece was used to hold and carry water. The decorator of this hydria has been identified as The Affecter, who painted over a hundred known pieces. Here the artist's attention to detail is apparent in the added color and lively, angular juxtaposition of the shoulder panel images, as well as in the elaborate treatment of the horses and larger figures on the main panel.

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Artist unknown (Roman, 1st century A.D.),
Head of Augustus , ca. 20 A.D.,
marble, Height: 9 in.; 22.86 cm
Museum purchase, 1955.271

This bust displays evidence that it was originally a portrait of Nero, probably commissioned during the early part of the emperor’s reign, ca. 54–59 A.D. It was most likely recut into Augustus soon after Nero's fall, when feelings were still running high—around 70 A.D. The rougher finishing of the locks at the back of the head suggest that it was displayed in a niche; it is probable that it was originally colored, like ancient statues generally, though no trace of color now remains.

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